My question is to Minister Pulford, representing the minister for transport. The taxi rank outside the arrivals hall at Tullamarine airport has been replaced by two centrally located Uber driver pick-up points. Yesterday the chief of ground transport at Melbourne Airport confirmed that Uber paid for the removal of the taxi rank. Given the government provides much funding and support for Melbourne Airport, this blatant commercial arrangement should have been stopped at the outset. It is not in the public interest for public transport access to be privately sold to a multinational corporation that has proven time and time again it is not a fit and proper entity. This position discriminates against not only the taxi industry but all the other rideshare participants. My question is: what part did the regulator play in negotiating the removal of the taxi rank at Melbourne Airport to accommodate Uber?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Resources) (13:06): I thank Mr Barton for his question and for his advocacy for people working in this industry. As always, I am sure Mr Barton and people working in passenger transport are all looking forward to far greater levels of activity over the coming months and years than has been their experience in recent times. I am sure that just heightens an interest in these issues. I will seek a written response from Minister Carroll for Mr Barton.
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (13:07): For those with a disability this relocation makes it more difficult to reach a wheelchair-accessible taxi. Under the new layout disabled passengers are forced to make their way the length of the airport to reach a taxi at terminal 1 or navigate an obstacle course to reach the terminal 4 car park taxi rank. Uber provide no wheelchair-accessible vehicles, and at a recent parliamentary hearing they stated explicitly they have no intention to do so. Did the minister and Melbourne Airport consult with any disability groups prior to entering this shameful commercial arrangement with Uber?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Resources) (13:08): I thank Mr Barton for his question on this very important issue of equitable access for people living with a disability. I will seek from Minister Carroll, and provide as quickly as we can, a response to Mr Barton in accordance with our standing orders.
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 ongoing advocacy regarding the commercial passenger vehicle industry and for passengers with disabilities.
The Andrews Government is committed to providing accessible services to individuals with accessibility and mobility needs. This Government has made significant investment in improving the quality of services available to Victorians with accessibility and mobility needs.
The Multi Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP) supports subsidised travel for passengers and funds supply side incentives to improve services to MPTP members requiring the use of a wheelchair. In 2020/21 the government paid over $52M in subsidised commercial passenger vehicle trips for MPTP members and over $21M in lifting fees to support the availability of wheelchair accessible vehicles. And since 2014, the government has paid over $5M to support the introduction of new or upgraded wheelchair accessible vehicles and over $6M to booking service providers to reduce the wait times for Victorians requiring wheelchair accessible services.
In the case of Melbourne Airport, I am advised by the Minister for Public Transport, the Hon Ben Carroll MP, that the introduction of a dedicated Uber pickup zone at Melbourne Airport was a decision made solely by Melbourne Airport. As Melbourne Airport is a leased federal airport and falls under Commonwealth jurisdiction, I encourage the Member to direct his question to the Commonwealth.