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ACT moves to drive down licence fees

Monday 21st Jun 1999

Owen Jennings

Media Release -- Economy

ACT is moving to drive down the cost of licences saying the charges imposed by the LTSA on commercial drivers are a constitutional outrage.

ACTÆs Transport Spokesman Owen Jennings has lodged a written submission with ParliamentÆs Regulations Review Committee seeking an urgent review of the regime and its charges and will appear before the Committee on Wednesday.

"It appears to ACT that the LTSA is flouting the express wish of the Parliament to keep the costs of licences down. It is clear from the Hansard record that Parliament wanted the fees on licences to be kept to a reasonable cost.

"The original proposal was that the standard driver license would cost up to $60. Several political parties worked together to have this fee reduced to $29.50. Parliament clearly envisaged that part of the cost of the new system would have to be born by general taxation on the basis that the Government was claiming that there were general benefits for the new licence.

"But, other drivers have faced outrageous price increases. ACT believes that what the LTSA has done is a constitutional outrage. The LTSA has decided that a small group of drivers are to pay, not for the cost of issuing their licence, but for the cost of the whole system.

"This is how taxi drivers find themselves facing a bill of $500 for a piece of plastic.

"Calls coming into my office suggest that many people holding several licences e.g. Heavy Traffic, Bus, Dangerous Goods, etc, are just unable to afford the new fees. Part-time bus drivers in rural areas who help out local contractors are particularly hard hit. Some of these drivers work as much as a community service as they do for income. The new fees will take many months of driving to recoup. Increases of several hundreds of per cent are just unacceptable.



"Don Richards of Waipawa Buses has 52 buses and 80 drivers. Don says his top school bus driver earned just $12,000 and the lowest $34.00 last year. Some 12 drivers did not earn enough last year to pay these new fees. They are doing Æcommunity serviceÆ effectively but they are vital to the system.

"It would cost Waipawa Buses more than $25,000 to pay for the new licences on behalf of all its drivers. However after paying the fee, the drivers could be anywhere after 5 years and he might be paying several times over.

"In another community, the community run school bus route relies on 5 drivers. Total annual payroll $6,000. Total cost to renew licenses $1,562.50 or 26% of the payroll.

"The second problem is that the new rules mean it takes six months to get a license. This is totally impractical as no operator can afford to have a staff person æunproductiveÆ for that period. The cost for a new driver is $397.00. This six-month stand down will cause major problems for rural communities where school bus drivers are few and far between. If a community urgently needs a new bus driver they cannot afford to wait six months while the new driver sits it out at home.

"It is important the Regulations Review Committee urgently inquires into the new licence fees. ACT wants Parliament to move urgently to bring them down," said Owen Jennings.


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