Taxi and Uber parliamentary inquiry tells Victorian government to end $2 levy

ANTHONY GALLOWAY, State Political Reporter, Herald Sun

June 8, 2017 11:44am

A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry has urged the Andrews Government to put an end date on its $2 levy for taxi and ride share trips.

The inquiry — which includes three Labor members — also told the government to remove the $50 million cap on the “fairness fund” for taxi licence holders and consider reducing the new $2-per-trip fee.

A bill to deregulate the taxi industry, legalising ride-sharing services like Uber and allowing drivers to set their own fares, was introduced to parliament in February.

As part of the proposed laws, the $2 levy would be slapped on every trip to collect revenue for the government’s $494 million compensation package for taxi licence holders.

But the Victorian Parliament’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee has urged the government to put a sunset clause on the levy and consider reducing it.

There is no dissenting report by government MPs on the committee, which suggests changes to the bill are likely.

A parliamentary inquiry has urged the Andrews Government to put an end date on its $2 levy for taxi and ride share trips.

The government has also been urged to increase the compensation for licence holders, which includes “buyout” of $100,000 for the first licence they own, plus $50,000 for up to three additional licence.

The committee found the government’s estimates of revenue from the $2 levy were based on data from existing taxi trips and “will likely underestimate the total revenue”.

Committee chair, Liberal MP Bernie Finn, said the taxi licences were purchased at a high price from the government.

“This is devastating for many working men and women who have dedicated their lives to the commercial passenger vehicle industry,” Mr Finn said.

“Innovation is important and the economy and industry change all the time. Certainly ride sharing as an industry is here to stay.

“However it is important that any new industry players understand that they need to work within the legal and regulatory parameters that are established in Victoria.

“Some businesses new to this state have not done so and continue to fail to behave ethically.

“The committee hopes that this report and its recommendations, if accepted and acted on, go some way to establishing a fairer and smoother transition for taxi licence holders to the new ride sharing economy.”

Uber spokesman Mike Scott said: “The committee has handed down some sensible recommendations recognising the significant impact a $2 levy without a sunset clause would have on everyday Victorians.

“We trust the Victorian Parliament can work together to pass these important reforms and open up increased choice and competition for the benefit of the travelling public.”

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