Touting will soon be outlawed in Victoria with two pieces of legislation in play to reintroduce the offence.
Victoria’s legislative council will debate Mr Barton’s private members bill – the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Amendment Bill 2019 – today [Wednesday, 13 November], but the Government has also indicated it will support Mr Barton’s amendments to include a touting offence in the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill being debated in the assembly this week.
“Touting is an unintended consequence of the industry reform legislation of 2017 and ending this dangerous practice is a first step in fixing a badly broken taxi and hire car industry,” said Mr Barton.
“It’s important we reflect on how dangerous touting is and the great risk it poses to our travelling public, and that we consider the regulatory environment which has driven drivers to engage in touting.”
Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne announced the government would support Mr Barton’s amendments during the legislative assembly debate on the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill yesterday.
Minister Horne said:
“I understand that the amendments will seek to extend the long title of the bill and introduce a touting offence for the commercial passenger industry. I’ve had a number of conversations with Mr Barton and I note that he has been a vocal advocate for the matters contained in his amendment.”
“As a government we have been engaging with a wide range of stakeholders across the industry and we’re happy to say that the government is supportive of this amendment.”
A win for the CPV industry as Minister for Public Transport declares her support for amendments to introduce a touting offence to the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2019.
Mr Barton says reinstating offences for touting was the end goal and how that came about wasn’t important.
“I’m glad that pressure from Melbourne Airport, from the taxi and hire car industry, from Victoria Police and members of the public and the media have encouraged the Government to ban touting,” he says.
Mr Barton first raised the problem of touting in February 2019 in his maiden speech, highlighting it again in amendments to a motion for an inquiry into the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Reforms of 2017. Over the past 10 months he has continually pushed the Minister to reinstate touting offences, including new methods of online touting in the form of cash-for-rides services.
“Touting has been a problem across Melbourne this year – the MCG shut down vehicle access to gate 1 because of touting and the increase in unidentified vehicles, we’ve seen serious assaults by drivers tricking passengers into their vehicles and Melbourne Airport has received hundreds of complaints from passengers who’ve had a bad experience with touts as they leave the airport.
“This is a message to the industry and passengers that touting is not acceptable and that safety is a priority.”
Mr Barton said he would continue to work with the Government to introduce changes that will improve conditions for the taxi and hire car industry.
“This is another step towards repairing the past and building a viable and sustainable future.”
The Parliamentary Inquiry into CPV Reforms will table its recommendations on November 26.