Victorian govt faces $2 ride levy battle

Kaitlyn Offer – AAP on February 22, 2017, 11:51 am

The Victorian government could be facing a battle on its plans to include a $2 levy on taxi and rideshare trips in the state.

A bill to legalise ridesharing services such as Uber was introduced in state parliament on Wednesday and will be debated on Thursday.

The bill offers a $494 million assistance package that includes a taxi licence buy-back scheme offer $100,000 for the first licence and $50,000 per licence for up to three more.

The $2 per trip levy will help fund the support package and replace the $23,000 annual licence fee per taxi.

It would then be up to transport providers to decide how the levy is collected and if it was passed onto passengers.

The state opposition is likely to try and block the levy.

“We have concerns that the $2 levy will hit some of the most vulnerable in our society,” opposition spokesman for public transport David Hodgett told reporters on Wednesday.

“I’ve talked to pensioners in the city and in the country that might get a taxi short ride down to a doctors appointment or to the supermarkets to do their shopping and these are $6, $8 taxi fares that are going to be slugged with a $4 tax on a round trip, so that gives us some concern.”

Mr Hodgett said deregulation models in Queensland, where there was no levy, and in NSW, where the levy was $1, needed to be examined.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said “unpicking” the legislation would prevent the industry from getting “significant” transition support.

Ms Allan said she would be willing to negotiate to get the legislation passed, but “with the package largely intact like it is now because it is all linked, because it’s about providing industry support.”

“If they block the levy, they block the compensation package,” she told reporters.

There is no end date for the levy, which will be administered through the State Revenue Office.

All commercial passenger vehicle providers will have to provide quarterly information on trip numbers as part of the levy collection.

Should providers not comply with regulations, they risk not being able to operate in Victoria, Ms Allan said.

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