Rogue cabbies still at the wheel
Concerns: Rogue cabbies allowed stay behind the wheel. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Taxi drivers charged with hundreds of crimes and traffic offences including drug dealing, robbery, assault and drink-driving are still behind the wheel after the Department of Transport decided not to revoke their licences.

Department statistics show police laid more than 530 charges against cab drivers last year in 375 separate matters, but only 48 cases prompted suspensions or cancellations of taxi licences.

Drivers who were allowed to remain behind the wheel faced allegations including possessing methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply, possessing cannabis, aggravated assault causing bodily harm, possessing a prohibited weapon and reckless and dangerous driving, according to documents tabled in State Parliament.

In some cases - such as a conviction for selling or supplying methylamphetamine - warning letters were issued.

Others, including the robbery charge, are still before the courts.

Charges including murder, child sex assault, indecent assault, drug possession, aggravated assault causing bodily harm, common assault and fraud were among those where licences were cancelled or suspended.

But in most cases, no action was taken to suspend or cancel taxi licences because the offences were deemed "insufficient grounds to establish a driver is not of good character".

Among the 375 cases, there are taxi drivers who have faced more than one set of charges.

Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said former transport minister Troy Buswell pledged to clean up the industry three years ago and the figures show he had failed.

"This is tarnishing all the good drivers," Mr Travers said. "There is apparently a lack of consistency in the penalties.

"There are people driving cabs who simply should not be there."

Mr Travers said legislation which passed Parliament last week was "window dressing" and had not lived up to the Government's promise on dealing with inappropriate behaviour.

But Transport Minister Dean Nalder said the legislation included the promise of penalty point provisions for unacceptable behaviour by taxi drivers and the Government was committed to improving processes to ensure appropriate standards.

"The process of removing below-standard taxi drivers from the industry is better today than it was 12, 24 and 36 months ago," Mr Nalder said. "All decisions to suspend or cancel driver's T-extension are open to external review by the State Administrative Tribunal.

"Decisions to suspend or cancel a T-extension will often lead to a driver becoming unemployed.

"Therefore, each case must be carefully considered to ensure the powers vested in the director-general are appropriately exercised."

Mr Nalder said in previous SAT and court decisions, the offence and previous criminal and traffic histories were taken into account to determine whether a taxi licence was suspended or cancelled.

Taxi Council of WA chief executive Steven Gill recognised there had been issues that had rocked community confidence in the industry but he said the new legislation would substantially change the way in which inappropriate behaviour was handled.

"We are fully supportive of any compliance activity where there is illegal behaviour," Mr Gill said.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

More from The West