Teen’s job on the line after licence bid knocked back

A Sunshine Coast dad says his 15-year-old son's first job is on the line after an application for an early licence was rejected.

Rick and Fiona Nuttall believe their 15-year-old son Elijah's application for a driver's licence has been unfairly rejected by Department of Transport and Main Roads.

They have raised the issue with the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal, in the hope of the decision being overturned.

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The family applied for Elijah to have his learner's licence earlier than his 16th birthday, in February, and to only complete 50 hours of practical driving before taking the test for his provisional licence.

A petition on the matter has been tabled with the Queensland Government and is available here.

Mr Nuttall, a father of three, said the application was made after Elijah was employed for his first job, at Coochin Creek's Hungry Jack's, about 19 kilometres away from the Peachester family home.

He said this means they have to do two return trips equalling 80 kilomtres to get Elijah to work, on top of the usual school run.

"TMR says transport is reasonably available because mum or dad can take him," Mr Nuttall said.

"I'm a disability pensioner and there's times that I can't physically do it so it's dependent on my wife, when we also have to take our kids to school from Peachester to Maleny."

Elijah, 15, and Rick Nuttall want the Department of Transport and Main Roads to reconsider the teen's early licence application.
Elijah, 15, and Rick Nuttall want the Department of Transport and Main Roads to reconsider the teen's early licence application.

The family moved to Peachester two years ago from the Gold Coast.

He said with no public transport from Peachester to Coochin Creek, driving Elijah to work could prevent their other two children from attending after-school activities.

"He went through the application process all on his own and we were very proud of him," Mr Nuttall said.

"We've been driving him to work but we can't sustain it … that's why we're pushing through with this."

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Mr Nuttall said if Elijah lost this job, it would be difficult to find another in the current climate.

A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said it could not comment on matters before the tribunal.

They said children can apply to obtain a licence earlier than the minimum age of 16.

"However, in order to be granted a special need (age rule) licence the legislation requires an applicant must demonstrate refusal to grant the licence would cause severe hardship," they said.

"The restrictions on obtaining (the licence) reflect the serious road safety risks associated with allowing young people to drive unsupervised without meeting standard licensing requirements."

But Mr Nuttall is challenging the department's reasoning, including the weight put on safety risks associated with younger drivers and a vague definition of "severe hardship".

Mr Nuttall has also raised concerns about TMR not making the legislation easily accessible.

He said Elijah should have met the requirements and questioned why the legislation existed if it could not be used to help a young person sustain employment.

"The only time that severe hardship is applied is when someone who has done the wrong thing in the first place and lost their licence," Mr Nuttall said.


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