Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Court Decision Upholds Rights of People with Guide Dogs to Catch Taxis

A decision by a NSW Court to fine a taxi driver for refusing to carry a guide dog is a win for the rights of people with disabilities, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities Bill Shorten said today.

“Access to public transport such as taxis is a basic right in Australia. To be excluded for having a disability is illegal and unacceptable,” Mr Shorten said.

“This decision sends a message to taxi drivers and taxi companies about their responsibility to serve passengers with guide dogs, and supports the majority of drivers who routinely carry assistance animals.”

“People with disability have a right to be included in society and should not be treated as second-class citizens.”

The case was brought by Disability and Race Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, who was refused service in April last year by a Sydney taxi which refused to allow his guide dog into the vehicle.

Mr Innes made a complaint to the NSW Department of Transport about the incident and the department launched a prosecution under the NSW Transport Act.

The driver was today fined $750 and ordered to pay $2500 in costs.

Mr Shorten said that treatment Mr Innes had experienced was still too common.

“In January this year Guide Dogs NSW/ACT commissioned an independent survey of people who use guide dogs,” Mr Shorten said.

“The survey found that one in three people who use a guide dog had been refused entry by a taxi driver in the last 12 months.

“This is not an acceptable situation and it is one that deters some people with assistance animals from catching taxis.”