Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:12): I would like to rise briefly to speak to Mr Barton’s motion, which is fundamentally a documents motion. I am never sure if my support for Mr Barton helps him or hinders him. Knowing my position on ridesharing and some of the work that I did in the previous Parliament on this, I am never sure that Mr Barton wants to hear me supporting him or if he would prefer that we stayed in opposite corners of the ring.
But this is a very sensible motion, and I am interested to learn more about this trial for a number of reasons. A couple of years ago I was actually up in Newcastle and saw the trial there. But in New South Wales they had not extended the subsidy to the ridesharing cars there, so they were actually just working on a fixed rate. In talking to Mr Bourman about the idea of working on fixed rates, I can see how that could be very unfair to a person who was riding a very short distance and would be paying an excessive amount.
But this is a trial that seems to have been conducted without much conversation, particularly with the taxi industry. And as much as people have said of taxi drivers, ‘I hate them’, many years ago people used to ask me what my favourite car was and I used to say, ‘It’s yellow with a light on’, because I have always been a supporter of getting somebody else to drive me. But these days I drive myself a lot more. Anyway, this scheme, the multipurpose taxi program, has had its problems. Certainly speaking to some disability groups, they used to lament that they would have to wait up to an hour or 90 minutes for a multipurpose taxi, because—I would see this firsthand—you would see them lined up at the airport hoping to get a good, long fare with a large family or a large group of people. So I think we do need more vehicles on the road to cater for the disability market. However, they need to be playing on a level playing field, and certainly when you are talking about vulnerable groups in our community you want to make sure that we do everything to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those people that may not have some of the abilities to communicate problems as you and I might have.
In seeking the information about this trial, I think we will understand what parameters the cars were operating within and who they were servicing. We have really only heard that they did 170 trips and everybody loved every single trip—that they gave them all five-star ratings. This did not include wheelchairs. While this trial, from what we see on the face of it from the few sentences that we have seen published, was a great success, I think this documents motion will allow us to consider it in far greater detail and see what the successes were but also what improvements are required and what we need to ensure that we keep a level playing field in this very important service that we offer to people with disabilities.