Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (11:21): There is a con. Uber is just another taxi company, but what they are really good at is the marketing. Uber should be absolutely held accountable to exactly the same standards as the other taxi companies here in Victoria, but once again the Andrews government wants to give them a free kick. We cannot understand this. We are not sure why this continues to happen. We say that safety is not negotiable. That should be our number one focus on this—safety. In London Uber have lost their licence two or three times for not being a fit and proper entity. These are the same things they have been accused of here in Victoria, but we reward them.
‘There is a con! Uber is just another taxi company, but what they are good at is marketing…..’
We are in the middle of a pandemic. The pandemic has not passed. Ms Terpstra raised the fact that the Andrews government chipped in $22 million. Let me just say my good friend and colleague Mr Dimopoulos and I fought very hard to get that money out of this government. But here we are about six weeks away from having all the subsidies taken away from the taxi and hire car people. They are going to lose their JobKeeper. They are going to lose their—
Mr Bourman interjected.
Mr BARTON: other subsidies. Yes, thank you. They are about to lose that support. The industry is running around at less than half pace, and we are about to do something where we have got 10 500 multipurpose taxi program vehicles, which are generally full-time, covering the full gamut of disability services. What we are about to do is to increase that to 86 000 vehicles, the vast majority of them being part-timers. We have to think, ‘Have we got vehicles fit for purpose?’. When someone rolls up and makes their booking on their Uber app and a Nissan Micra rolls up and they have to put a collapsible chair or a Zimmer frame in there, how are they going to do that? Are we going to charge a cancellation charge, because that is what Uber does? They charge us that cancellation fee.
To sum up on this, this is about safety. This is about a level playing field. This government has got this industry wrong not once, not twice. A very senior member of the Labor government said to me before he retired, ‘This government have got a lot to be proud of, but their dealing with the taxi industry is not one of them’. Thank you. That is all I will say.