Heartbreaking tales of financial and personal ruin have been flooding into the office of Eastern Metropolitan MP Rod Barton after he called on the taxi and hire car industry to tell their stories to the Parliamentary Inquiry on the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Reforms.
Mr Barton was instrumental in initiating the inquiry, which will review the taxi and hire car industry reforms, transition compensation and look at how to move the industry forward.
“The stories of hardship that my office has heard over the past week are just heartbreaking,” said Mr Barton.
“Families who have stayed in the industry are suffering – they are struggling to pay down debts on licences that no longer exist, and they work grueling jobs in an industry that now pays below the minimum wage with no sick leave, holiday pay or superannuation benefits.
“In many cases those who have left the industry are no better off and have had to sell assets, with retirees returning to work and most still paying off loans on lost licences.”
Mr Barton said many taxi and hire car operators and their families have been broken by the legislation changes.
“This week I wrote to many of them and asked them to tell their story to the inquiry. It’s important the government understands the consequences of deregulation of this industry and the extreme hardship faced less than a year after the reforms came into effect.
“This may be the last opportunity for the taxi and hire car industry to be formally heard on this issue, so it is really important that the committee is provided with all the information about the ramifications of the reforms.”
Mr Barton told the industry not to give up.
“Many people are feeling a sense of hopelessness, but I am not ready to give up and my office is on hand to help those effected to prepare their submission and have their stories put on record.”
Mr Barton will sit on the Economy and Infrastructure Committee that will hear all the evidence and provide recommendations for a final report to be submitted to Government.
He is also encouraging rideshare operators – the newcomers to the commercial passenger vehicle space – to make submissions.
“I hope that we can use this to make the industry better.
“We have a ridiculous situation at the moment where a cheap commercial passenger vehicle licence is available to anyone. There are very few barriers to entry, so the streets of Melbourne are flooded with cars, touting is the new norm, and our regulator is struggling to maintain standards in a new wild west,” he said.
Those effected by the reforms have been invited to contact Mr Barton’s electorate office if they need help navigating the submission process.
Submissions close Friday, 28 June 2019