TAXI drivers will no longer have to pass English tests or undergo geographical knowledge training after the Palaszczuk Government quietly removed requirements for them to do so.
The Courier-Mail can also reveal Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe is actively considering requiring drivers of both ride-share and taxi services to undergo mandatory sexual harassment training.
As part of the Government’s overhaul of the sector in response to the rise of Uber, a new driver authorisation will come into effect for both cabs and ride-share.
That process has meant the removal of requirements around the “appearance of drivers, cleanliness and comfort of vehicles, minimum age limits for drivers, English proficiency and electronic payments”.
Previously, drivers had to sit an English test through a registered training organisation if they planned to drive in a “major taxi area”.
Under the old driver authorisation, local geography training was included in a scheme provided by the companies.
But as some requirements are scrapped, Mr Hinchliffe said mandatory sexual harassment training was being considered as a potential future requirement.
The Transport Minister, who stressed that “all of personalised transport need to be treated the same way”, said: “We are actively considering it as part of the ongoing process of the implementation.”
Transport consumer advocate Robert Dow said that it was “unacceptable” that the minimum English standard had been scrapped, saying both it and the geographic knowledge training were “essential”.
He described the latest move as a “complete capitulation”.
“We’ve all had experience where it’s been difficult to communicate with a taxi driver,” Mr Dow said.
“Certainly, there needs to be some basic navigation standard … (and) there needs to be a basic requirement in English proficiency.”
But a spokesman for the Department of Transport and Main Roads yesterday said that the changes were about slashing red tape and that competition would ensure high standards.
“Previously, taxi services were provided in a closed market,” the spokesman said.
“Standards now form part of operating any viable commercial business therefore government no longer sees its role as determining whether taxis are clean, drivers are dressed in uniforms or drivers can speak English proficiently as this will be scrutinised by customers themselves as they nNo more English tests for taxi drivers now have choice,” the spokesman said.