Asking for Justice…Rod moved for the government to acknowledge that taxi licences were valuable items of property and to repair the damage of past reforms.
Today Rod read in his motion which he will debate in the Upper House tomorrow afternoon.
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I give notice that, on the next day of meeting, I will move —
That this House —
- acknowledges that —
- in 1998, the High Court of Australia determined that a taxi licence was a valuable item of property;
- since the commencement of the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017, the revocation of perpetual Victorian taxi and hire car licences amounted to a compulsory government asset acquisition;
- the revocation of perpetual Victorian taxi and hire car licences for a fraction of their worth constitutes as a breach of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006;
- arbitrary transition assistance payments in lieu of some, but not all, perpetual Victorian taxi and hire car licences was grossly inadequate and unfair;
- the deregulation of the industry in 2017 has —
- created a glut of commercial passenger vehicles on our roads;
- reduced driver income to well below minimum wage;
- threatened the economic viability of the industry;
- caused worsening traffic congestion;
- calls on the Andrews Government to —
(a) accept a financial proposal to properly compensate the industry for the compulsory asset acquisition of all perpetual Victorian taxi and hire car licences;
(b) make adjustments to the commercial passenger vehicle industry structure to better balance market components and end driver exploitation; and
(c) support a recovery plan to build back and move the commercial passenger vehicle industry forward through COVID-19.
This week, Rod asked the Premier about the treatment of Essential Transport Workers.
Thursday 12th November 2020
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:42): My constituency question is for the Premier. Taxi fares in Victoria have not increased since 2014, and there have been a number of reviews. Taxidrivers are essential transport workers, as has been demonstrated during this pandemic. They receive no holiday pay, no sick pay, no superannuation and no maternity leave, and many have been known to work for less than $10 an hour—well below the minimum wage. The Essential Services Commission sets these fares, and it is interesting to note the executives at the Essential Services Commission in the same period have received a pay increase of 24.5 per cent. The information I seek is: what is the justification for this unfair treatment of these essential transport workers?
The taxi and hire car industry had been knocked down before this pandemic even started. Rod Barton is concerned that COVID-19 will be the nail in the coffin for many of them struggling to survive.
The government’s lack of support for non-employing sole traders has let many fall through the cracks, crippling the taxi and hire car industry.
The future of the industry and livelihoods of these workers depend on a comprehensive and effective recovery plan to move forward. There is so much at stake.
Already it is a struggle for many to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table for their families. Rod Barton believes it is absolutely critical that there is a strategy to relaunch the taxi and hire car industry.
Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria is responsible for outlining the rules and parameters that dictate this industry. This responsibility extends to ensuring the industries survival and creating an action plan to move forward.
This is why Rod Barton asked the Minister for Transport, “what is the CPVV’s plan to relaunch the taxi and hire car industry as we come out of restrictions?”
If the regulator fulfils its role in the economic recovery of this industry, Rod Barton is optimistic that we can give hope to those in this industry who have been doing it tough.
Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Metropolitan and the Leader of the Transport Matters Party Rod Barton MP:
‘I believe that the regulator has a statutory responsibility to ensure that the taxi and hire car industry has an economic recovery plan as we come out of this pandemic.’
I asked Premier Andrews to ensure that all Victorian government departments support small business and use only Australian registered rideshare and taxi services?
A support package to keep taxi drivers working is essential to maintain transport options for Victoria’s elderly, disabled and vulnerable according to Eastern Metro MP and Transport Matters Party leader Rod Barton.
“Drivers have had it tough for the last few years and for many this will be the last straw.”
Transport Matters Party leader Rod Barton has called for an increase in the maximum regulated taxi fares of 10 percent immediately with annual CPI increases in the future.
“These Victorian public transport drivers are slugged with increasing costs on all sides and no way of improving their working conditions.”
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (19:48): The matter I raise tonight is for the Minister for Roads, Minister Pulford. The absence of VH series numberplates from VicRoads’ menu is a familiar song, and I think I sing it well. So tonight I will sing it again. In March I asked the minister why VicRoads had stopped releasing VH plates to hire car operators in Victoria. At that time hire car operators bringing on new vehicles were unable to get new VH plates. Minister, you assured me then that they would be reinstated; however, they are still not available. I have repeatedly received complaints that VicRoads will not release new VH plates and that operators upgrading their current vehicle and attempting to put the original VHA plate onto a new vehicle have been told their existing VH plates must be returned to VicRoads.
VH plates are a brand in the marketplace. They signify a professional level of service, and in an incredibly crowded commercial passenger vehicle marketplace they have become even more important. Traditionally they have been used to identify professional operators for exclusive access to the forecourts of our major hotels and access to VIP areas and many of Melbourne’s major events. They provide passengers with a premium level of service and are a source of pride among professional drivers. VH plates mean something and they have a value. So I ask the minister again: can you reinstate the VH plates?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Roads, Minister for Road Safety and the TAC, Minister for Fishing and Boating) (20:04): … Finally, Mr Barton raised a matter for my attention, a matter that I know Mr Barton has worked hard on in his time as a member of this house. This is around the VH plates. As Mr Barton indicated in his adjournment comments this evening, he first brought this to my attention in March. I undertook to go and see what could be done. This is something that has occurred as a consequence of some of the reforms around commercial passenger vehicles.
What I can indicate to the house and to Mr Barton today is that the VH plates will be made available again by October of this year to any registered commercial passenger vehicle at a cost of $350 a plate. That cost is just a straight cost recovery exercise, so that is minimising the impact for people who want to buy those plates but also recognising that there are not enormous numbers. Mr Barton made some observations when he spoke about the brand identity that is VH plates, and I know this is something very important to him. VHD to VHZ will be made available.
Just for completeness in responding to Mr Barton, I indicate to the house that the government will be removing access to the special purpose lanes for VH-plated cars, so that everyone is nice and clear about the rules and how that all works. I take the opportunity to congratulate Mr Barton on his very effective and determined advocacy on this particular question.