Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (15:25): My question is to Minister Pulford, representing the Minister for Public Transport. The Victorian government has announced that all commercial passenger vehicle drivers must have a COVID-19 vaccine if they wish to continue providing CPV services. If a CPV driver has a driver agreement in place with the vehicle owner, then it is the responsibility of the vehicle owner to keep a record of those vaccinations. However, those who are not registered as a booking service provider are expected to keep their own record. So my question is: why is Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria not keeping a register of full vaccination status against every driver’s accreditation details, instead choosing to rely on an honesty system?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Resources) (15:26): I thank Mr Barton for his question and his interest in the safe travel of people using commercial passenger vehicles and those who drive those vehicles, both as employees and as self-employed people. I imagine that the question goes to the legal effect and nature of the chief health officer’s direction rather than being a question of CPVV’s regulatory role, but I will seek a response from Minister Carroll for you, who may in turn seek some advice from Minister Foley to assist in providing you with some certainty around that.
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (15:27): Whilst we are talking about COVID requirements by CPVV, I have been informed that CPVV have not been following the government’s lead on requiring proof of vaccinations from patrons. While soon all patrons entering a pub or a shopping centre will be scanning their QR code to show they are double vaxxed, there will be no such requirement for travelling CPV passengers. This certainly seems to be at odds with the public health message as we know it today, so in the interest of providing the best public health outcomes for our drivers, why have CPVV and Health chosen not to make it a requirement for patrons to prove that they are double vaxxed when requesting a commercial passenger vehicle?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Resources) (15:28): I thank Mr Barton for his supplementary question, and I will seek some further advice perhaps, probably again from Minister Carroll and Minister Foley. The supplementary question even more directly than the substantive goes to the question of the health directions. It is not really a matter for CPVV when you are talking about vaccination mandates and the health orders that give them effect. That is very much a matter for the chief health officer, and as I think all members will appreciate, he has made some decisions—some of which have taken effect already, others which are yet to take effect—that are based on his assessment of the need to have people at particular risk of exposure kept safe.
Now, the public health message is absolutely clear, though. The public health message is we think everybody should be vaccinated, and quickly, so that we can all get back to doing the things that everybody loves and misses and to doing so safely. But I will seek that further advice from Ministers Carroll and Foley for you.
Answered: 15 October 2021
A written response was ordered for both the substantive and supplementary questions. Written response received:
I thank the Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region for his question and long-standing advocacy for safety in the commercial passenger vehicle industry.
The Andrews Labor Government is committed to protecting all workers who are not able to do their essential work from home and protecting the roadmap to reopening. The advice from our public health officials is that vaccination remains our best protection.
As the Member would be aware, the Chief Health Officer has mandated vaccination for authorised workers, which includes commercial passenger vehicle drivers. This is because they are currently moving around Victoria the most, and so it is vital that they get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and all of Victoria. In accordance with the public health direction, employers must ensure drivers are vaccinated. If a driver is self-employed, they must keep the vaccination record themselves.
To help ensure workers can receive their vaccine, the Government has expanded its grants to the primary health network to enable those providers to boost their hours and staff and get more vaccines into the arms of Victorians.
The commercial passenger vehicle industry regulator, Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV), has provided advice and guidance to industry on the application of the mandatory vaccination requirement and will continue to support the industry to remain safe and open. The mandatory vaccination requirement will be enforced in accordance with the public health direction.
I thank the Member for his supplementary question, and again, as he would be aware, all mandatory vaccination requirements, including any requirement regarding travelling members of the public to be vaccinated, will continue to be determined by the Chief Health Officer in accordance with public health advice.