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Government bows to pressure over licensing fiasco

The government has been forced to re-think its muddled and unfair licensing legislation, but it's still a mess, Alliance spokesperson on Transport John Wright said today.

He was responding to the announcement that the government will allow bus and taxi drivers and other endorsement holders to renew their licenses annually rather than every five years. Also that in certain cases fees for bus drivers would be lowered.

"But most unprofessional drivers will still pay more than the so-called maximum cost of $29.50 to renew their licenses.

"Unless you are celebrating your 25th, 35th,45th, 55th or 65th birthday, you will pay twice.

"For example, if you are turning 24, 34 44, 54 or 64 years old you will pay $10 now for a new license that will only last a year. You will have to go back next year and re-new your license for the full decade and pay $29.50.

"If you are turning 23, 33,43, 53 or 63 years old you will pay $12 for a license that is valid for only two years or less, and then pay the full $29.50.

"Also taxi drivers and other professional drivers will still pay double the amount they should to renew their licenses, whether they pay it every five years or parts of it annually.

"In answer to a written question, Minister of Transport Maurice Williamson told me that the cost of introducing the new licenses had been worked out at '$65 million over the 10 years period for which fees have been set.'

"What he didn't say was that professional drivers are being asked to carry the can for those costs. Taxi drivers for example have been paying fees set on a ten year scale, every five years.

"All that has changed today is that now they can pay parts of that unfair fee each year.

"These drivers are simply paying double, whether every five years, or part sums every year.

"This back-down makes a mockery of Maurice Williamson's claim that these exorbitant charges were simply based on cost recovery. Now it seems, miraculously the costs have been lower all the time because the government can afford to lower costs for bus drivers. Well why not for taxi drivers, and all other drivers too?" said John Wright.

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