The Australian Human Rights Commission has received an application from Brisbane Transport under section 55 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA) and Part 33A of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (Transport Standards) for an exemption from s 23 of the DDA and Part 11 of the Transport Standards.
Brisbane Transport advises that 361 of its buses do not comply with Part 11 and Schedule 2 section 2.2 of the Transport Standards, relating to handrails and grab rails on public transport.
Brisbane Transport advises that it purchased the non-conforming buses before the commencement of the Transport Standards and that the non-conformity relates to the diameter of the rails or the reduced clearance between the rail and adjacent surfaces.
Brisbane Transport requests an exemption for up to 5 years because it claims upgrading the handrails on non-compliant buses would impose an unjustifiable hardship upon it.
Brisbane Transport submits that the Commission should grant an exemption to it because:
- it has a fleet management plan that will result in either the retirement or rectification of all non-complaint buses in the short to medium term;
- it has policies in place to mitigate the risk of discrimination or complaint during the period that non-complaint buses remain in service past the 31 December compliance date;
- the nature of the non-compliance relates to minor non-conformances with the relevant engineering standard, rather than outright breaches;
- it has no reports of injury relating to hand and grab rails pertaining to the Brisbane Transport fleet;
- modification of the fleet will require expenditure of significant public funds that may better be utilised on areas of greater non-compliance elsewhere throughout the Brisbane City Council; and
- Brisbane Transport has an ongoing monitoring process that will react to changes in projected fleet life and reassess any negative impact that service life extensions may have on non-compliant buses. Where these life extensions occur beyond the requested five year period, Brisbane Transport’s Senior Leadership team commits to undertaking Part 11 modifications in order for the buses to remain in service.
Request for submissions
The Australian Human Rights Commission is presently considering this exemption application and invites interested parties to make submissions, preferably by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions may also be addressed by mail to the Legal Section, Australian Human Rights Commission, GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001.
Submissions must be received by 1 November 2012. Submissions received after this date will not be considered.
To promote open public discussion and exchange of views, the Australian Human Rights Commission intends to post submissions made electronically on its internet site. Any requests for material to be treated as confidential should be clearly indicated.