A mediation service for disputes arising from personalised transport industry complaints will be part of changes announced following a review of the Personalised Transport Ombudsman Act 2019.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the changes would provide new avenues for complaints to be resolved that would benefit the personalised transport industry.
“We are working to finalise a personalised transport mediation service through the Queensland Government’s dispute resolution services, where parties have been unable to resolve the complaint themselves and mediation can assist to resolve their issues,” Mr Bailey said.
“We are also partnering with The Taxi Council of Queensland to provide access to independent mediation services for the taxi industry, to assist in the resolution of bailment agreement and other industry disputes.
“These measures are part of our decision to repeal the Personalised Transport Ombudsman Act 2019, which would have established a Personalised Transport Ombudsman.
“We took the opportunity to readdress the Act when the proposed Ombudsman position was deferred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our review looked at whether a newly created Personalised Transport Ombudsman would provide the stated benefits to industry, particularly as operators recover from the impact of the pandemic.
“That review found the number of complaints about the industry were currently low and what was really required was access to independent mediation services to assist the industry to resolve complex matters.
“We listened to industry feedback, particularly with regard to how the Act added another layer of regulations and compliance it would be required to address.”
Mr Bailey said mediation services will be available at no cost to the industry.
The taxi industry security levy will also being suspended in 2020-21 as part of continued support during the COVID-19 pandemic, saving of $405 per taxi service licence this financial year.
The secure taxi rank program, which operates in popular nightlife precincts on weekends and has historically been part-funded by the industry levy, is currently under review with an outcome expected later this calendar year.
Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) CEO Blair Davies commended the State Government on its decision to prioritise reducing regulatory burden for the industry.
“Utilising the Government’s existing dispute resolution services and TCQ’s experience in mediation makes much more sense than adding another layer of bureaucracy for the personalised transport sector,” Mr Davies said.
“It just has to be a more efficient process for dealing with complaints and we think it will also produce better resolutions.
“We thank the Minister for taking on board TCQ’s advice that Queensland taxi licence holders could not afford to pay the industry levy this year.
“The past twelve months have been very tough for taxi licence holders and so this decision that will save them $405 per licence is very much appreciated.
“We know that the secure ranks program is vital for keeping taxi drivers and passenger safe late at night and it has to be funded somehow, and we look forward to working with the Government to find improvements that can make the program more efficient.”
The Queensland taxi and limousine industries have been supported through the economic impacts of the pandemic COVID-19 with a $23 million financial assistance package announced in 2020 that provided one-off payments to taxi and limousine operators, wheelchair accessible taxi operators, taxi and limousine licence holders, and authorised booking entities.
This funding followed the provision of various forms of relief to members of the personalised transport industry as part of a $54.5 million essential transport services package announced in April 2020.
The establishment of the Personalised Transport Ombudsman office was budgeted at $5 million over three years, with $429,800 of costs incurred until April 2021.