My question is for the Attorney-General, representing the Assistant Treasurer. Victorian taxi fares are some of the lowest in the country, as we all know. The industry has taken battering after battering, first with the reforms of 2017 that created mountains of legacy debt and now with the pandemic. On top of this, despite surging inflation taxidrivers have only had one fare increase in the past 14 years. In the past year alone fuel prices rose by 32.3 per cent. The price of fruit and veg has increased in some cases over 70 per cent. Rent and house prices continue to increase. We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, and the lowest paid workers are bearing the brunt. The industry needs a fair increase today. Attorney, for the minister, when will the Essential Services Commission complete their fare review and publish the results?
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:35): I thank Mr Barton for his question and his continued passionate advocacy for the taxi industry here in Victoria. You have raised important issues that I will seek some further advice on, if you like, but I do have information in relation to that report that there will be a decision in early July, with a final decision in September. The commission advises that it expects to release a draft by early July. I will refer your question to the Assistant Treasurer to provide any further details—and I am sure you are going to ask more in you supplementary anyway.
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:35): Thank you, Attorney. Last year I moved an amendment that the Essential Services Commission had to consider the Fair Work Commission’s minimum wage review and the commercial viability of operating a taxi. Minister, can you confirm to us that the Essential Services Commission has taken into account these considerations?
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:36): You make very good points, Mr Barton. I will pass them on to the Assistant Treasurer and get you an answer.
Response received 29 June 2022
I have been informed by the Essential Services Commission (ESC) that it expects to release a draft decision on the unbooked taxi fare review in late June or early July, with a final decision in September.
The ESC has also confirmed that it is taking into account the Fair Work Commission minimum wage review and the commercial viability of operating a taxi.
The Hon. Danny Pearson MP