Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has already given his moral support to the Transport Workers Union (TWU) to introduce mandated sentences for people who assault bus and taxi drivers. This is considered a breakaway with the stance adopted by the Liberal National Party (LNP) of Queensland.
Cr Quirk committed his support during a council meeting that took place hours after 50 union members rallied on Queensland Parliament to petition a call for change.
Cr Quirk said, “There is no excuse why people going about their proper jobs in this city particularly in our transport network should face assault. The TWU want mandated sentences for people who assault bus and taxi drivers.”
Cr Quirk fully agrees with the TWU and he also believes that it is not acceptable to leave them unpunished after causing harm to these type of workers. He was totally supportive of TWU’s call for the mandation of sentences to anyone who thinks they are capable, for whatever reason, to justify assault on a bus driver or a taxi driver working around the city.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Scott Emerson is against the mandate. He was not willing to support mandatory sentencing for assaults on drivers. He said that the way to respond to any assault on all Queenslanders is by strengthening the laws.
"The bus safety committee has been taking a proactive approach to tackling bus safety issues."
According to Mr Emerson, the latest figures (1st Quarter 2013) showed that the initiatives employed by the department, such as regular safety blitzes and a crackdown on badly behaved school students are effective and working. Compared to last year 2012, figure on assaults went down to 42 percent for the first quarter of 2013. But that is still equivalent to 119 assaults, still unacceptable. Hence, Mr Emerson decided to double the number of senior network officers over the next year.
However, Mr Emerson’s resolution seems not enough as TWU is demanding more from them. They are looking for a change, not just resolutions. Following their march on the Parliament to deliver the petition, containing 4,000 signatures, State Secretary Peter Biagini said its members were being treated like "second class citizens".
"Every day drivers are being punched, robbed, stabbed and spat on, yet Transport Minister [Scott] Emerson and the Newman government refuse to take action to protect drivers," Mr Biagini said.
"We need mandated sentencing to meet those that face thugs to assault police."