Page 3998 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015

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For the entire taxi industry, the bill and regulation amendments to come will remove unnecessary regulatory burdens on taxi services, such as a range of prescriptive requirements on operational matters. Restrictions on operators’ and drivers’ ability to access work through multiple booking services will be removed. The reforms support driver viability outcomes through more accessible workers compensation and dispute resolution mechanisms. Further, the bill will allow for workers compensation in circumstances where drivers and operators are asked to have an exclusive relationship with a transport booking service.

No other jurisdiction has levelled the playing field in this way, putting the taxi industry and new entrants in a fair framework with a good basis to compete. The bill helps us to protect consumer pricing outcomes. We are therefore allowing for the regulation of prices, and this extends across all services. Current maximum taxi fare arrangements will remain in place until we determine that sustainable competition is established.

The proposed amendments will allow for the availability of regulation of the fares of hire cars and ride sharing. This recognises that the new kinds of transport services may introduce pricing practices that may not fully align government intentions or consumer outcomes and equity. Therefore this gives the government tools—and, I stress, only if required—to stop or place limitations on any future undesirable pricing practices.

Finally, the bill, in regulating fares, allows for a regulated reduction in the maximum surcharge on electronic payments. This is another important measure for consumers, who have been gouged for too long. We intend to replace the 10 and 11 per cent surcharges and reduce that to a maximum of five per cent.

In moving to reduce the regulatory burden, the bill does not remove all of the government’s powers to take action, as I discussed in my presentation speech. This is an important point to note. There has been some media reporting to the effect that this is a deregulation of the taxi industry. It is not a deregulation—not a complete deregulation. There are still important powers retained. It is a regulation of ride sharing rather than a deregulation of the taxi industry. Specifically, it allows for refining and reducing of regulatory burdens. Let us be very clear: we are reducing regulatory burdens but not eliminating them altogether. This will be achievable chiefly through subordinated regulation and a range of other instruments.

This morning I have spoken about a great deal of industry change, and indeed there is. But it is important to make clear that there will be no change to the wheelchair accessible taxi, or WAT, service, the centralised booking service for WAT passengers and drivers, or any change to the taxi subsidy scheme. Over the next two years we will observe the WAT service carefully and make sure that the customer experience is not impacted in a negative way.

The taxi subsidy scheme will not apply to ride sharing services in the ACT. The scheme represents a substantial fare subsidy arrangement. This decision reflects another important way of supporting the quality of our WAT service.

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