ECONOMY AND INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE
Inquiry into the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017 Reforms
View the tabling of the CPV Inquiry report in the Legislative Council this week.
Mr ELASMAR (Northern Metropolitan) (13:28): Pursuant to standing order 23.29 I lay on the table a report from the Economy and Infrastructure Committee on the inquiry into the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017 reforms, including appendices, extracts of proceedings and a minority report. I further present transcripts of evidence, and I move:
That the transcripts of evidence lie on the table and the report be published.
Motion agreed to.
Mr ELASMAR: I move:
That the Council take note of the report.
In doing so it is my pleasure to table the report on the recent rideshare inquiry. The arrival of rideshare services has been the biggest change to the commercial passenger vehicle industry across the world recently. The public now expects safe, high-quality transport that is cheap and affordable. However, it is essential to the viability of the industry that it provides a good living to its drivers. Governments globally have found it difficult to balance these two demands. Parliament takes this issue very seriously, which is why we have supported three parliamentary inquiries over the past three years. I thank my parliamentary committee colleagues—deputy chair Mr Bernie Finn, Mr Mark Gepp, Mr Rod Barton, Mrs Bev McArthur, Ms Sonia Terpstra and Mr Tim Quilty—and all the participating members, who were always professional in their pursuit of a fair and equitable resolution for all parties to the inquiry. They also take ridesharing very seriously.
I am grateful to everyone who participated in this inquiry. The committee received 315 submissions and heard from 21 witnesses across three public hearings. I understand how hard it was for some people to speak with us about their difficult financial circumstances. Their evidence was invaluable in helping the committee understand the complex issues surrounding the future of ridesharing in Victoria. Therefore on behalf of the committee we sincerely thank you. And, fellow members, on behalf of the committee we understand that rideshare is here to stay. Nevertheless, the government still has an important role to play, and it remains committed to supporting a vibrant and sustainable commercial passenger vehicle sector that meets the needs of consumers and industry alike. I hope that the recommendations included in this report help achieve this.
I would also like, before I finish, to thank our secretariat staff—Patrick O’Brien, Matt Newington, Alice Petrie and Justine Donohue—for their administrative support and unending hard work during the course of this inquiry. I commend the report to Parliament.
Ms TERPSTRA (Eastern Metropolitan) (13:32): I also rise to speak briefly on the tabling of the taxi inquiry report by the chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Mr Nazih Elasmar. There was much interest in this inquiry, and there were 315 written submissions made, with a public hearing held on 19 June. I wish to acknowledge the contributions made by those members of our community who were affected by the changes brought about by the commercial passenger industry reforms. I also acknowledge the desire to see genuine reform of the industry, to assist those who operate in it and to have the best commercial passenger industry available to consumers. I wish to acknowledge Mr Barton, a member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, and his continued advocacy in this area as well. To the many drivers, owners, operators and family members who gave evidence at the inquiry, thank you very much for your contributions. To my fellow members who served in this inquiry, thank you for working constructively on this inquiry, and also to the secretariat staff who assisted both me and my colleagues who served on inquiry, thank you very much for your assistance and your efforts in producing the report. Thank you.
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (13:33): I am pleased to be able to rise this afternoon and speak to the Economy and Infrastructure Committee’s report and recommendations on the commercial passenger vehicle reforms of 2017 and the needs of the industry moving forward. The past 12 months have been hugely successful in identifying the consequences of the taxi industry reform and the issues and needs of Victoria’s commercial passenger vehicle industry as it grows and evolves. I certainly want to thank the committee and its staff for their time and interest and the incredibly professional way this has all been handled. These recommendations open the opportunity to repair the past and pave a way for a viable and sustainable future for this industry.
I do note with irony that Uber last night lost its licence to operate in London because of its pattern of failures that put passenger safety at risk. It is not fit and proper to hold a licence, says Transport for London.
The Economy and Infrastructure Committee has engaged with the State Revenue Office, the Department of Transport, the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Association and the taxi industry, and the Transport Workers Union as well as having received over 300 submissions from struggling and concerned groups and individuals.
Many of the stories we heard as a committee were personal and heartbreaking. I certainly thank all of those who took the time to tell their stories and their tales of how the reform has impacted families, which are still very raw and painful. I am proud to say that we now have an inquiry report that recognises the consequences of these reforms and sets out a list of recommendations to improve the industry. This is the reason why I was elected to act on behalf of the taxi and hire car industry: to get answers and resolutions for those who are affected by the commercial passenger vehicle reforms. I thank everybody for giving me the opportunity to do so. But we do have a set of recommendations in this report that indicate a clear path forward and that I hope bring closure and some relief to those who have fallen victim to some of these changes.
The Andrews Labor government now has the opportunity to enact change for the better for this industry, to recognise the struggle of those who are impacted and to create a viable, ethical and sustainable industry. I look forward to working with the government to implement all of the report’s recommendations and to return respect and pride to the commercial passenger vehicle industry.
Mr FINN (Western Metropolitan) (13:35): I rise to speak on the report, Inquiry into the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017 Reforms, as conducted by the Economy and Infrastructure Committee of the Legislative Council. As the deputy chair of that committee I commend my fellow members, in particular the chair, Mr Elasmar, on the way the work was done on this inquiry and the effect that that work has had on the recommendations.
Sadly, I have to support the minority report, and largely that is because this report is not as good as perhaps the last one we did on the rideshare industry. President, I am sure you will remember that there was bipartisan agreement on that report, which led us to come to a common view that there were many people in the industry who were just not being given a fair go and who deserved a much better go. That has not changed. This report will not change that unfortunately. There are still many people in the community who are suffering as a result of their treatment by the government. Taxi operators in particular are suffering as a result of the way they have been treated by government, which has just gone ahead and done it, in pretty much the same way it does everything—like a bull at a gate. It does not care about the impact or unintended consequences. A good many people have been run into the ground, and indeed some sadly and tragically have actually taken their own lives, and that is the greatest tragedy of all.
I support the minority report. I wish we could do more to help the people who are suffering as a result of the government’s actions.
Mr DAVIS (Southern Metropolitan—Leader of the Opposition) (13:37): First of all, I acknowledge the work of the members of the committee, particularly the secretariat staff. This of course is, as Mr Finn pointed out, a reprise of an earlier report. It is a weaker report, and that I think is unfortunate. Notwithstanding that, there are some useful recommendations that were agreed by all members of the committee, and that is valuable. But there are some major deficiencies in the majority report and we sought to bring these out in the minority report.
It is clear that the transitional package was inadequate, and we do not believe that that has been addressed by the majority report. We do not believe that the fundamental tenet of much of the reform, which was to strip people of licences without proper compensation, was right. It was simply an evil act; there is no other word for it. Reform by all standards is fine, and changes by all standards are fine too, but where a whole industry and people are at the behest of the government in this way is simply cruel, and it is wrong to leave them without the proper compensation that they were entitled to receive.
The levy concerns me greatly. The government will use this levy to redirect and fund parts of the department, and that is not what the levy was intended for, and we have made that point very strongly too.
As Mr Finn alluded to, the health impacts of these changes have been profound. There is no question that people have suffered tremendously at a family level and some people have taken their lives. I believe there should be a proper study to look at these matters. There should be a proper public health study to understand what has gone on and to make sure that proper services and support are in place for the long haul, and again that has not been supported by the majority of the committee. I for one think that is deeply sad and wrong.
I should say that the compensation matter does dominate, and we really do need a better way forward to ensure that people are still not left high and dry. (Time expired)
Mrs McARTHUR (Western Victoria) (13:40): I rise to speak on the report moved by the chair, Mr Elasmar. I was very pleased to serve on the inquiry into the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017 reforms. I greatly appreciated the contributions of all members of the committee, the secretariat staff and the numerous contributors to the inquiry. Their stories were frequently heart-wrenching, and it was indeed very difficult often to understand how people could be suffering so much at the hands of a government.
I must also support the minority report. The issues surrounding compensation, transition, the $1 levy and the ongoing health issues, even the rideshare industry itself, have not been properly dealt with, and I think there is, as Mr Davis said, a need for further investigation and further inquiry. I thank the members again, and I support the minority report.
Mr GEPP (Northern Victoria) (13:41): I am very pleased to rise to speak on the report, Inquiry into the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017 Reforms. Can I also begin by thanking all of the members of the committee for the work that we did collectively, particularly under Mr Elasmar’s stewardship, ably supported by Mr Finn as the deputy chair.
I particularly want to thank Mr Barton, who brought this inquiry to this place and the referral to the committee. Mr Barton is of course—
Mr Davis interjected.
Mr GEPP: I cannot believe it. This bloke just cannot help himself, can he? He just cannot help himself. It does not matter. This bloke just cannot help himself. Fair dinkum! But, Mr Barton, notwithstanding that Mr Davis does not want me to pay attribution to you for the work that you brought to the committee, I will, because I think it is worthwhile that this place understands the expertise that you brought to this committee. It was so invaluable in allowing us to understand completely the implications of the 2017 reforms and the changes to the industry that have been so obvious to all of us, I think, for the last couple of years but also importantly the way forward and some of the recommendations and the way through some of the issues that still are apparent for people in the industry. So I want to pay particular thanks to you for that expertise that you brought to the table. Of course I want to pay a big thanks to the staff of the committee, who did such tremendous work.
Motion agreed to.