My adjournment tonight is for the minister for transport. The taxi and hire car industry has suffered terribly during these COVID lockdowns. I commend the government for recognising this and including the taxi and hire car industry in their recent business support packages.
However, this is an industry that has missed out in all the previous three state government business support packages, taxis in particular. Taxis are an industry that has not had a fair wage increase since 2014, seven long years ago. Pre-COVID 30 per cent of all commercial passenger vehicle work was to and from the airport.
This work has not recovered.
There have been several reviews into maximum fares set out for taxis since 2014. However, none of these resulted in fare increases of any kind, all while the cost of operating a taxi business continued to increase. The Essential Services Commission set these maximum fares.
Those in the taxi industry must be able to have a living wage.
We are facing a real chance that some communities in Victoria will no longer have a taxi service, as it is not economically viable anymore.
Taxis are a vital part of our community and deliver an essential service. These transport drivers are some of the lowest paid individuals in Victoria.
Unlike other businesses, they cannot raise their prices to ensure their commercial viability. Even now the fares as set by the Essential Services Commission do not factor the impact of increasing the commercial passenger fleet from around 8500 vehicles to 85 000 commercial passenger vehicles.
This means that in real terms the wage of a taxidriver has been decreasing since 2014.
The industry needs more than a hope and a prayer; we need a viable plan that shows a pathway out of this financial struggle.
That is why the action I seek is: will the government create a COVID recovery plan for the taxi and hire car industry after all that it has suffered through?
The Government understands the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the Victorian economy and in particular the commercial passenger vehicle industry.
In 2020, the Commercial Passenger Vehicle industry (CPV) Advisory Panel helped deliver on a $22 million support package to mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. A range of support was provided to the industry including depot fee relief, cleaning grants and increases to the Multi-Purpose Taxi Program subsidy and lifting fees, levy refunds and waivers.
It is important to the Government that the industry continues to be supported to ensure its long-term viability as we recover in a COVID-normal environment. It is also important that we continue to pursue ways to improve how the industry is regulated and improve on the user experience.
For these reasons, I have re-convened the CPV Advisory Panel and I look forward to working with the Panel on supporting the industry moving forward.