Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (16:50:37): It is not often we see this level of consensus in the room, this warm feeling. I am not sure that that is just thinking about—
Ms PATTEN: This is a good bill, and the Reason Party is very, very pleased to be supporting Mr Barton. I commend him for bringing this to the house.
Some of the government speakers have said, ‘You know, there’s unintended consequences’, and I understand they are a little bit concerned with this very simple piece of legislation, that it may have some unintended consequences, but this bill is trying to repair the unintended consequences that were created by the government’s own legislation. It is about safety. I enjoy listening to Mr Limbrick, the freedom fighter of our chamber, but this actually is about safety, and it is very important.
We know that unsafe drivers are touting. We know that unsafe drivers are out there and I think that again, when we look at the legislation that was introduced, some of the unintended consequences were we lost a lot of the safety measures and the safety precautions that actually were in some of our initial transport legislation. They were lost in trying to trying to capture all commercial passenger vehicles.
I expect that this will not be the last amendment bill from Mr Barton in this regard and that we will see more and more measures to capture some of the safety measures and the safety precautions that were lost as we moved into the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017.
Certainly it is interesting because I introduced the first ridesharing bill, which probably helped Mr Barton get elected—I am not trying to take credit for things; I think you had a very good campaign and you were elected on your own merits—but the first ridesharing bill that I introduced actually kept those precautionary measures. In fact it just carved out a space to identify and define what ridesharing was and to put that into the legislation.
The government at the time said, ‘That’s all very good but there may be some unintended consequences’, so they took it off and introduced their own bill and, as we have seen, there were unintended consequences. Deleting the offence of touting was one of them, as well as other things.
Certainly when I come back from anywhere and I get to Melbourne Airport I am sometimes almost besieged by people trying to invite me into their cars. I am generally pretty vicious back to them and they tend to run away.
Mr Finn interjected.
Ms PATTEN: I may not look big on the outside, but I certainly address them and tell them that what they are doing is unethical. I used to be able to tell them what they were doing was illegal. I cannot do that now, but I will be able to do it soon I think.
I think this raises the issue of the unintended consequences of removing the offence of touting but also some of the other controls and regulations that we had around drivers on our roads.
I was in a taxi yesterday and the fellow was—well, he was a very safe driver, I suppose: he did not go over about 20 kilometres. He also did not have a meter. His meter was not working. It turned out he did not have an EFTPOS machine either; that was not working either. And it turned out that he did not actually know how to get to Southbank.
That sort of driver would have been picked up in previous legislation and that driver probably would not have been on the road. I got into a taxi some years ago at the airport and I said, ‘I’d like to go to the city, to Exhibition Street’, and the driver said, ‘Do you know how to get there?’ I went, ‘Yes—in another taxi’, and promptly got out.
There was another driver I remember who did not know how to open the boot of his own taxi, and he did not look much like the picture on the ID card that I saw in his taxi.
This touting is a rip-off. It is dangerous. We have no idea whether these cars are insured, we have no idea whether these drivers are indeed registered, we have no idea whether these drivers know where they are going.
I think there is certainly far more disturbing information not just on overcharging but on actual violence and criminal acts by these drivers because they are literally anonymous. You do not know whose car you are getting into. You do not know who that person is.
I sometimes see people walking away with them and I sometimes want to chase them and say, you know, ‘Sir, please!’ But I am not that loud. A lot of the drivers are charging $140 to get in, and for Mr Finn $100. Now, for $140 I would expect a bottle of champagne and a rather nice limousine, thank you very much, or maybe a nice scotch.
But I did note that at Melbourne Airport they have actually brought back their recorded message saying that touting is not to be tolerated and, ‘Be cautious. These drivers may not be registered; they may not be insured. We don’t know what’s happening’.
Again I congratulate Mr Barton. I think this is good legislation. It shows the effect that small parties can have. It shows the effect that parties that come here with a passion, wanting to effect change and wanting to make things better, can have. I was not able to support Mr Hayes’s bill this morning.
Again, it is that type of passion that I think this crossbench has been bringing to this chamber. I commend this bill to the house, and I urge the government to act on this bill quickly.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Second reading 13/11/19