Minister for Transport The Honourable Rachel Nolan 22/07/2009
MYSTERY SHOPPERS TO TEST TAXI PROGRESS
A team of "mystery shoppers" will help monitor customer experience under a reform package to Queensland's taxi industry announced by Transport Minister Rachel Nolan today.
Ms Nolan said the mystery shoppers would assist in creating a feedback loop which would provide valuable insight into the ongoing progress of the proposed changes.
"The two highest profile changes are the creation of a minimum age for taxi drivers of 20 years old and the requirement to have been driving in Australia for at least 12 months," Ms Nolan said.
"The mystery shopper will allow us to monitor the effectiveness of these and other changes within the package and to get some first-hand customer experience."
Ms Nolan said she had been greatly disappointed to hear that some cabbies have been targeted for abuse and marginalisation recently but it had only made her more determined to deliver on her promise to reform the industry.
"Let me be very clear in my message to those people who might have a racial motivation in their criticism of cab drivers and cab companies in recent months - we are only concerned with improving customer service standards and safety standards.
"By setting a high but consistent bar across the industry, I am saying to the taxi passengers that the State Government supports their expectation of a high quality service.
"By restoring community confidence in the authorisation of taxi drivers, I aim to protect foreign drivers from some of the unfair criticism that have been levelled against them."
Ms Nolan said that reforms in the taxi industry were one of the first commitments she made when she become Transport Minister in March this year.
"Concerns were raised with the taxi industry and, from the outset, I made a commitment to listening to all parts of the industry - not just the owners and industry bodies but the customers and drivers themselves," Ms Nolan said.
Ms Nolan said the shake-up of the taxi industry followed several months of investigating concerns from taxi industry representatives and members of the public about a lowering of driver and industry standards.
"I instigated a Taxi Hotline earlier this year to take community feedback on the industry to determine if changes were needed and in which areas," Ms Nolan said.
"The complaints from the Hotline have focused on a lack of appropriate taxi driver training, pre-requisite driver licence history and local knowledge as well as taxi industry service standards in general.
"The reforms I'm announcing today will address each of these areas and have a real and lasting impact on our State's taxi industry."
Minister Nolan has also confirmed that the Taxi Hotline will continue until the end of the year and quarterly surveys will be conducted to continue to gather community feedback to guide future compliance priorities.
"Furthermore, we're taking these reforms directly to the road as well, introducing a mobile taxi compliance unit," Ms Nolan said.
"This unit of dedicated taxi compliance officers will have vehicles out on the roads targeting taxis and their drivers, creating a more visible compliance presence.
"By implementing this range of initiatives, Queenslanders can look forward to a rejuvenated taxi industry and a safe, reliable and comfortable journey whenever they take a cab."
Driver Authority Eligibility Criteria
Introduce a mandatory eligibility requirement for an applicant for a driver authorisation (taxi) to have held an Australian issued driver licence for at least one year.
Introduce a minimum age requirement for applicants for a driver authorisation (taxi) of 20 years.
Introduce a requirement for an applicant for a driver authorisation (taxi) to have undertaken an English proficiency assessment using the International Second Language Proficiency Rating (ISLPR) provided by an accredited ISLPR assessor.
National Training Standards:
Queensland introduce the national training framework and core taxi driver training competencies developed through the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (once approved by the Australian Transport Council).
Introduce a requirement that the Department of Transport and Main Roads will only recognise taxi driver training provided by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).
Queensland requests that the National Taxi Regulators' Group commence a second phase training framework project to develop a national position on refresher training to complement the national training package. If there is limited support at a national level for this project, Queensland will examine this issue independently with the taxi industry.
Introduce targeted taxi compliance unit in Queensland.
Gather information about community perceptions of taxi standards to guide future compliance priorities by:continued monitoring of the taxi complaints hotline until 1 January 2010; mystery shopper feedback; quarterly Neilson survey data.
Establish a Taxi Industry Advisory Committee to guide the development and delivery of the taxi Industry Strategic Plan and provide advice to government on key issues for the taxi industry.