Notice of decision
Under section 57 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA) the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission gives notice of a decision made on 18 February 2009.
The Commission received an application from WizzBus Bus and Coach for a temporary exemption under section 55 of the DDA regarding a bus service to be established between Moorabin airport and Melbourne under a contract being sought with the Victorian Department of Infrastructure.
The application indicates that Wizzbus has not to date been able to acquire an accessible 30 seat capacity bus to suit its service. The application seeks an exemption for 5 years, being the anticipated initial contract period, to enable the service to commence and enable WizzBus to verify the economics of operating a low floor route bus.
Decision of the Commission
The Commission decided to refuse an exemption for the following reasons.
The Commission does not regard it as appropriate to use the power to grant temporary exemptions simply to certify that an applicant need not undertake certain actions on hardship grounds, without there being sufficient reason to conclude that granting an exemption will advance achievement of the objects of the legislation.
While the objects of the Disability Discrimination Act may be promoted by granting exemptions in return for commitments to improve access over time, in this instance the application does not provide any specific commitments rather than seeking simply to have five years during which the DDA need not be complied with.
This decision does not prevent the applicant seeking to establish a defence of unjustifiable hardship in response to complaints, but the exemption process is not the appropriate vehicle for seeking to establish such a defence.
In making this decision the Commission considered the terms and objects of the DDA and the matters set out in the application from Wizzbus.
Review of decision
Any person whose interests are affected by this decision may seek a review of it under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth).
Graeme Innes AM
Human Rights Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner
on behalf of the Commission
9 March 2009