Murrays Australia guilty of direct discrimination

PIAC: Public transport operators cannot afford to ignore Disability Standards

The Federal Court has ruled on wheelchair user Julia Haraksin’s three-year battle to have bus company Murrays Australia comply with national Disability Standards.

Justice Nicholas said Murrays Australia had directly discriminated against Ms Haraksin when the bus company refused to accept a booking from her because none of its buses were wheelchair accessible.

Justice Nicholas also found Murrays Australia had breached the national Disabilty Standards.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) represented Ms Haraksin in her action against Murrays Australia.

‘Today’s decision puts all public transport operators in Australia on notice,’ said PIAC Principal Solicitor, Alexis Goodstone.

‘Public transport operators cannot afford to ignore the Disability Standards. They have a legal obligation to comply, and people with disability who are sick of being treated like second class citizens will hold them to account.’ Ms Goodstone said.

PIAC has been advocating for accessible public transport for people with disability for several years, acting in cases against Virgin Airlines, the NSW Department of Transport and two large taxi companies, and most recently, RailCorp.

In Haraksin v Murrays Australia, PIAC claimed Murrays breached national Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport when it refused Ms Haraksin’s booking in 2009.

The Disability Standards came into effect in 2002. They require all new public transport vehicles to be wheelchair accessible and required 25% of transport operator’s existing fleet to be accessible by 2007.

‘This decision reinforces a very basic principle: everyone has a right to equal access to public transport,’ Ms Goodstone said. ‘People with disability should not have to go to court in order to catch a bus.’