Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:13): My question today is for Minister Pulford, representing the Minister for Public Transport. I ask the minister to confirm that those people who sit on the current Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria public register are actually working in the industry and have had proper police and medical checks. The regulator has failed in its renewal systems and is only now these past few weeks starting to send out invoices for renewals, two years after the reforms. In the meantime, drivers have continued to drive and have stayed on the register, so there is potential for many of them to have lapsed in their medical and police check requirements. I believe that given the regulator’s mismanagement of its financial and accreditation obligations, we now have a very misleading public register of drivers. I should know because I am still on it. I ask the minister: can the regulator assure the public that those who are on the public register should be?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Roads, Minister for Road Safety and the TAC, Minister for Fishing and Boating) (12:14): I thank Mr Barton for his question and his great interest in this issue and this area of regulation. I will seek a response from Minister Horne for Mr Barton.
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:14): Thank you, Minister. Since the regulator has failed its obligations to maintain the public register, it begs the question whether booking service providers are being audited to meet the licence conditions which require them to run regular police checks on drivers to ensure that there are no changes to their police status to operate as a commercial passenger vehicle driver and that there is no risk to the public. I ask the minister: has the regulator been conducting regular auditing of the booking service providers to ensure all 100 000-plus drivers are complying with their Victorian police check requirements?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Roads, Minister for Road Safety and the TAC, Minister for Fishing and Boating) (12:15): I thank Mr Barton for his supplementary question. I will also seek a response from Minister Horne.
I asked the Minister for Public Transport how current the existing public register of accredited CPV drivers was an if police checks were being conducted. Her response is on my website at https://rodbarton.com.au/cpv-driver-accreditation/
Minister Horne’s response (17 October 2019)
Substantive question response: All applicants for driver accreditation are subject to a national police history check, driving history check and medical assessment. Once accredited, drivers are subject to ongoing data matching with Victoria Police, which identified any new charges or convictions. Drivers who are charged with or convicted of offences may have their accreditation suspended and/or cancelled, where the offence warrants such action.
Under the new scheme, driver accreditation is perpetual and continues until cancelled by the regulator or surrendered by the accreditation holder. Invoicing has now commenced for annual fees, and information regarding invoicing is available on the regulator’s website.
Your question also provides an opportunity to clarify the purpose of the public register, which allows industry participants and members of the public to verify that a driver is accredited. The public register is not, and was never intended to be, a list of currently working accredited drivers.
Supplementary question response: As outlined in the response to the previous question, the responsibility for conducting criminal checks resides with the regulator. The obligation on booking service providers is to ensure they only use accredited drivers to provide commercial passenger vehicle services. Booking services providers can use the public register to validate drivers’ accreditation. The regulator’s audit program includes confirming booking service providers are ensuring drivers they use are accredited.