09 June 2021


Member for Blue Mountains



Labor MP Trish Doyle has slammed the State’s Transport Minister Andrew Constance for what she says is yet another bureaucratic failure under his watch. After having submitted an application for a renewal of his animal assistance pass more than six months ago, Bullaburra resident Dr William Silk, 76, is still left waiting for the pass to be issued.


Dr Silk suffers from chronic disability and has been supported by his assistance dog Sophie since 2015. In early December last year, Dr Silk submitted an application for a twelve month renewal of his Animal Assistance Pass with an attached certificate of animal assistance skills, and despite months of anxious waiting his pass has still not been renewed by Transport for NSW.


“Frankly, it is outrageous that this Minister and this Liberal/National Government have stood by and done absolutely nothing to rectify this bureaucratic stuff-up. It should not be taking six months for a Government agency to send out a card in the mail, especially when that card is needed for Dr Silk and Sophie to access public transport legally” Ms Doyle said.


“I have now written to Andrew Constance twice about this matter, and am shocked that it has still not been resolved. It is both heartless and cruel for the Minister to turn a blind eye to the immense anxiety and stress that this has caused Dr Silk. People who rely on support animals when travelling deserve better.”


Dr Silk reports that he has attempted to contact Transport for NSW on numerous occasions to rectify the error, but has struggled to make it past the switchboard.


“After waiting five months for any kind of response other than a cut-off at the switch, I received a phone call in April from a woman who worked for Transport. She assured me that she had no problems with the skills of my dog or me—we had, after all, been awarded a pass each of the six years previously. Our pass had been approved and my pass would be in the mail within the week. That was over a month ago and there’s still no sign of it. How long does it for them to process a piece of paperwork?” Dr Silk said.


“Now, after being denied the use of public transport for six months, I can only conceive this situation cruel, the result of incompetence or prejudice. The prevarication and lies I’ve encountered may have reasons I’m not privy to, but I do know that this Department of ‘Public Service’ is failing people trying to make a life with disability—farcically, catastrophically.”


Without Sophie’s Animal Assistance Pass, Dr Silk has been forced to either forgo the use of transportation altogether, or risk being fined in order to get to his appointments.


Dr Silk has referred the matter to the NSW Ombudsman, and is also seeking legal advice. In the meantime he continues to wait patiently for the pass to arrive in his mailbox.