Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (17:55): (1611) My adjournment tonight is for Minister Carroll in the other place. I have been inundated with responses from those in the commercial passenger vehicle industry who watched the committee hearings for the inquiry into the multipurpose taxi program last week. While I will not comment myself, I have received a lot of feedback from those in the industry who were somewhat bemused.
Certainly in my discussions with the industry, at the forefront is the role of the regulator. Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV) readily acknowledges that of almost 90 000 registered commercial passenger vehicles only approximately 35 000 are actually working. The question has been posed. Given the increase in the wheelchair-accessible vehicles was only about 300 to begin with, it is not an unreasonable assumption that there could easily be 500 wheelchair-accessible vehicles included in the dormant 55 000 CPVs which are inoperative.
I had one taxi operator contact me to inform me that they are no longer in a position to continue to offer cross-subsidised services that remain unrecognised by this government. Wheelchair-accessible vehicles cost up to $100 000; operators often make only a marginal profit at the best of times from offering these vehicles to Victoria’s wheelchair community. They have only been able to continue to offer these services for so long because they have been able to cross-subsidise with their usual sedan work. This taxi operator has had to reduce their fleet and divert their resources to protect the profitable sedan work. We are looking at the very real possibility—this is coming home to roost now—of limited wheelchair-accessible vehicles available, especially in regional communities. So the action I seek is: will the minister instruct CPVV to collect updated and accurate data on the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles that are currently active in the industry?