Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (17:26): (1696) My adjournment is for Minister Carroll in the other place. Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria, the CPVV, are the regulator for the taxi, rideshare and hire car industry. The CPVV list one of their key functions as accrediting all commercial passenger vehicles. Just as important as this function is the un-accrediting of commercial passenger vehicles when they are no longer in the industry. Unfortunately the CPVV actually has no idea who is in the industry. How are they meant to regulate an industry when they do not even know who is in it? I have no idea.
The CPVV system goes like this: if you signed up to be an Uber driver three years ago, a passenger threw up in your car and you decided this was not the career for you, the CPVV still thinks you are active in the industry. If you ask the CPVV how they know who is in the industry, they quote their yearly registration payment. Of course if you are not in the industry anymore, you would not pay the $50 registration fee and may opt out of the system. The CPVV have not collected this payment or registration renewal for the last four years. This was well before COVID.
On top of this many drivers have left their booking service providers and have decided to become independent operators. Often leaving the networks and becoming independent is the first step on the path of business collapsing entirely. The CPVV have said that they have a team of people who reach out to drivers to try and see who is active in the industry, and supposedly if they have made a permanent exit from it, the CPVV encourage them to surrender their accreditation and registration. It is no surprise that in my experience I have not heard of one person in the industry who has been contacted by the CPVV to ask if they are still active.
Every month the CPVV puts up numbers saying that we have 120 000-odd drivers and around 80 000 vehicles, but best estimates suggest 25 to 35 per cent of the industry are not booking service providers. I do not believe for a second that the CPVV is contacting even close to 1 per cent of the 120 000 registered drivers to see if they are still active since the last time they paid their registration fee in 2017. So the action I seek is: will the minister instruct the CPVV to take their role as a regulator seriously and find out who is actually active in the commercial passenger vehicle industry so we know who to regulate?
RESPONSE RECEIVED 24 Feb 2022 by Hon. Ben Carroll
I thank the Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region for his question and long-standing advocacy for the commercial passenger vehicle industry.
In recognising the vital role of commercial passenger vehicle services to our public transport system and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the previous Minister for Public Transport paused the collection of annual driver accreditation and vehicle registration fees in 2020, in addition to the $22 million Victorian Government industry support package. This means that some people who had intended to exit the industry during the pandemic may not have done so, because they have not been required to pay a fee.
To address this, I am advised the industry regulator, Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV), introduced a team dedicated to engaging with drivers and vehicle owners to identify whether they remain active in the industry. Where providers indicate they have exited the industry, they are supported to surrender their accreditation, or registration. Over 11,000 vehicle registrations and over 1,000 driver accreditations have been surrendered since July 2021.
I am advised that CPVV also holds other data sources that enable it to assess industry participation and target regulatory activity. For example, Multi Purpose Taxi Program data and booking service provider trip data provide CPVV with a strong understanding of current industry activity, including service demand and operator volumes.
As a result of Victoria commencing its Roadmap to Deliver the National Plan on 19 September 2021 and freedom of movement restrictions easing, there has been a positive increase in demand for passenger vehicle services. For this reason, I have directed CPVV to recommence the collection of annual fees from April 2022, which will further enhance understanding of industry participation.