Taxi industry changes announced as MP says reforms were first suggested five years ago
The Gunner government ignored a parliamentary committee’s recommendation to lift the cap on taxi licenses in Darwin and Alice Springs and instead paid a consultant to tell them the same, Independent MP Robyn Lambley has said.
In 2017 Ms Lambley moved a motion for the industry to be scrutinized by the Public Accounts Committee which investigated for months, finally concluding in November 2017 that the cap on taxi licenses should be removed through a process by steps.
But that never happened and this week Infrastructure Minister Eva Lalwer released a report with the same recommendation and others to make the taxi industry more ‘competitive and efficient’.
“The pressure on taxi wait times will also be eased with the removal of the cap on the number of taxi licenses in Darwin and Alice Springs in a phased five-year approach,” Ms Lawler said in a statement.
“This will be managed by releasing a set number of taxi licenses in Darwin and Alice Springs each year for the next five years via ballot.”
The Gunner government approved fivenew Consulting’s other recommendations for 2021 which would also see more wheelchair accessible taxis on the road “through a gradual increase in the number of licenses for wheelchair accessible vehicles”.
Annual fees (in the Darwin area) for commercial passenger vehicle classes distinguish between taxis and minibuses (at $5,000 and $3,000 respectively) and other classes at $300 or less per year.
Taxi operators could access $15,000 under the new plan to “upgrade their vehicles to be wheelchair accessible”, Ms Lawler said.
“Work is underway to implement most of the recommendations from the Commercial Vehicle Passenger Review,” she said. “The review examined the quality of services provided to the public, including the disabled sector, and made recommendations aimed at ensuring that the Northern Territory has a modern and service-oriented commercial passenger vehicle industry. customer, with high quality services provided to the disability sector.
Ms Lambley said all of this could have been done five years ago.
“The irony is that the main recommendation of this report is exactly the same as Recommendation 1 of the 2017 Taxi Inquiry report,” she said.
“The Gunner government was ordered to lift the caps on taxi licenses in Darwin and Alice Springs many years ago and have done nothing.”
Ms Lambley said the reason the government delayed implementing taxi licensing reforms was due to the rollout of carpooling – at this stage exclusively in Darwin – which coincided with the publication of the 2017 parliamentary report.
“The then Minister of Transport, Nicole Manison, decided to wait until 2020 to do another ‘review’ of the taxi industry, instead of the possible impact of carpooling,” it said. -she adds.
“It gave the government a convenient excuse to delay controversial and possibly politically unfavorable changes to the taxi industries in Alice Springs and Darwin.
“The need for a highly regulated taxi industry expired many years ago. The current system is unfair and discriminatory against those wishing to become owners/operators. Fair go for all in the industry taxi hasn’t existed for many years.”
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