Today the Andrews Labor Government will introduce urgent legislation to protect taxi and hire car passengers in Victoria.
The legislation will remove Section 159 of the Transport Act which, as a result of the recent County Court decision, brings into question the power of the Taxi Services Commission (TSC) to enforce taxi and hire car regulations.
The most serious implication of this potential loophole is that the regulator may not have the power to prevent drivers convicted of serious criminal offences, including sexual offences, from driving a taxi or hire car.
Given these serious implications, the Government intends to pass legislation through both houses of Parliament this week to ensure the safety of the public. The Opposition and other parties have been offered full briefings on the legislation.
Section 159 has been part of the Act since decades and has existed through Governments of both persuasions, and the recent Taxi Industry Inquiry, which did not recommend its removal.
The judge in the County Court matter referred to Section 159 as an “historical artefact”. It was only due to the court case that this situation came to light and it needs to be addressed.
It should not be in the legislation, it should have been dealt with decades ago and the legislation introduced today will remove it.
This legislative amendment is not relevant to considerations in relation to ride-sharing. The Government continues to work through the details of this complicated matter in the interests of passenger safety, access and fairness, and equity to existing operators.
Reviewed 19 August 2020