Transport and Other Legislation (Personalised Transport Reform) Amendment Bill

Posted On: 1 Jun 2017

I rise to contribute to the debate on the Transport and Other Legislation (Personalised Transport Reform) Amendment Bill 2017, introduced in the House by the Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports on 21 March and subsequently referred to the Public Works and Utilities Committee for consideration. I would like to acknowledge the many hours that the committee invested in their deliberations, which are reflected in the number of recommendations in their report. As honourable members have already heard from the shadow minister, the honourable member for Glass House, the personalised transport industry is not happy with the way this Palaszczuk Labor government has treated them.

Part 1 of the state government’s personalised transport reform passed in the House in December 2016 as part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill. I spoke on that bill after a number of deeply distressed taxi and limousine operators from the Currumbin electorate met with me to highlight the devastating impact upon their businesses of Labor’s do-nothing approach while their businesses and huge investments were left in limbo, dwindling before their eyes. Helpless to do anything, one solo operator likened the situation to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. They remain deeply distressed and really frightened about their futures. That is why I promised them I would convey their feelings to the House when this bill came up for debate.

The Palaszczuk government has much to answer to—to these mum-and-dad small businesses who feel that they have been abandoned. Let me be very clear, the LNP believes in competition in the market—fair competition on a level playing field. More should have been done sooner by this government to reach a reasonable outcome. The LNP was successful in passing an amendment to the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill which required the minister to table a draft bill and propose subordinate legislation by March 2017. The bill before us today is the second tranche. We pushed for further amendments to the Transport Operations (Passenger Transport) Act 1991. The LNP will continue to push for a level playing field for all operators in the personalised transport industry and safety for all passengers.

The committee received an impressive 328 submissions on this bill which is not surprising given the disruption and regulatory uncertainty experienced by the industry since ridesharing gained popularity in Australia. While the committee did recommend that the bill be passed, I note the non-government members of the committee raised a number of issues shared by many industry members from the Currumbin electorate who have contacted me over the past few months. The following are concerns that the taxi industry believe the Labor government has not addressed sufficiently: certainty and stability in the industry, safety cameras, police access to information and data, bailment, CTP insurance, enforcement of rank-and-hail regulations, fatigue management, and fees and red tape.

Instead of forging a clear pathway for all affected parties, this bill has further confused the industry and its customers. On the other hand, the LNP offer a way forward. A major component of the LNP’s taxi and rideshare policy released in April 2017 is the introduction of an independent personalised transport commissioner to advise the government on policy settings and regulatory functions and act as an ombudsman for the industry. This was a consistent request of stakeholders during the consultation period, and its exclusion is a significant pitfall of this bill. The introduction of an independent commissioner would assist in addressing many of the concerns I mentioned and would be able to further investigate and make recommendations on safety laws and regulations like cameras, licensing requirements and vehicle identification.

A vocal supporter of the implementation of a personalised transport commissioner is the Taxi Council Queensland. I quote from their media release from 16 May, which states—

"These recommendations show just how clueless the Government is in this space and only highlights the need for an independent transport commission as we have suggested and as the LNP has endorsed.

Another supporter of the need for a commissioner is Professional Taxis Gold Coast. This local company raised a number of concerns with me including the removal of bailment agreements, as they identified in their submission to this committee, stating—

The introduction of Bailment Agreements within the industry meant that both operators and drivers had certainty around the terms of their agreements and written evidence of what is agreed, so that either party can enforce that agreement in circumstances of dispute.

The Taxi Council Queensland further explained bailment agreements, saying—

In Queensland, traditionally, as a peak body we have advocated for a percentage split. Generally it is 50-50, where the owner or operator of the vehicle is to carry all of the costs and the person delivering the service gets 50 per cent of whatever the take is, but has no burden of cost sharing in that. It is the most equitable way of doing it. The bailment is where you set out the terms of that negotiation.

Professional Taxis Gold Coast identified bailment agreements as being integral in protecting the working conditions of drivers in such a unique industry. The Taxi Council Queensland share such trepidation at the removal of bailment agreements, stating—

The proposed Bill and Regulations seeks to repeal the worker protections enshrined in Bailment Agreements without establishing a replacement regime that continues to legislate minimum rights and conditions of taxi drivers.

Integral safety recommendations such as camera installation and GPS vehicle tracking are, according to the committee report—

... currently being finalised and will be dealt with in subsequent subordinate legislation. These policies will be focused on ensuring the safety of drivers and passengers.’

The taxi industry has lost its patience and awaits these new amendments with a degree of suspicion. Those who have chosen to join ridesharing initiatives are also wondering about their future because of the dithering inaction of this government and failure to act in a timely and transparent manner. It seems the Palaszczuk Labor government still have not got their act together and finalised their policy, leaving the industry and its customers to play the waiting game in the meantime. As the shadow minister said, the LNP will continue to listen to the industry’s voice and to ensure a fair and balanced system can operate and prosper in Queensland.

Welcome from Jann

As the State Member for Currumbin since 2004 we have achieved much together to make the place we call home an even better and safer community.

It truly is an honour to serve the caring and connected residents of Currumbin.

Your thoughts and concerns matter to me and I look forward to continuing to be a strong voice on your behalf.

My electorate office staff and I are here to help you with state government issues.

Kind regards

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