WA taxi plate owners win bid for compensation to help ease deregulation pain
Taxi plate owners in Western Australia will be able to apply for assistance payments from Monday in a bid to help ease the pain caused by deregulation.
Plate owners will be sent letters from tomorrow inviting them to apply for transition assistance payments, after the Legislative Assembly passed a bill which included the first stage of the Government's taxi reforms.
The bill, facilitating the $20,000 per plate payments, still needs to be passed by the Upper House, but that is expected to occur in the next few weeks.
The assistance comes after the Government moved to legalise ride-booking services, such as Uber, which have dramatically eaten into the market share of taxis in the past two years.
Transport Minister Dean Nalder has set aside $20 million for the assistance payments while a $6 million hardship fund is also being created.
Mr Nalder left the door open to further help down the road, saying a plate buyback scheme was one of the options being considered when further reforms are settled on by November.
But he rejected an amendment moved by Labor which would have given him the power to launch a buyback scheme, saying its proposal was insufficiently detailed, and he did not want to hold up the assistance payments.
The Government also rejected Labor's attempt to dramatically increase the size of the payment, to $162,500 per plate, which it claimed was needed because the proposed payout did not adequately reflect the industry's suffering.
Size of payout widely criticised
The $20,000 payments have also been rejected as inadequate by many in the industry and members of the Liberal Party's own backbench urged the Government to provide more money during debate on the legislation.
"It is a starting point but it is nowhere near enough," Liberal Whip Tony Krsticevic told Parliament.
"I don't know what an appropriate level of compensation is, but I do know the industry has suffered a lot, the value of plates has gone down a lot and I believe that assistance should adjust for those changes," he said.
Labor's transport spokeswoman Rita Saffioti described the measures as "woefully inadequate".
"It will now be an issue we take to the election," she said.
Uber opposes Victoria's planned $2 levy on taxi and ride-booking fares, saying it will 'reduce demand'
Uber says it will not support a proposed $2 levy on taxi, ride-booking and hire car trips in Victoria.
The Victorian Government announced the levy last month, as part of its plans to legalise the ride-booking industry while compensating taxi drivers for the loss of their taxi licences.
Uber's Victorian general manager Matt Denman told a parliamentary inquiry into ride sourcing services today that he was against the extra charge.
"We've been very consistent in our comments that anything that makes transport more expensive for consumers is something that we can't support," he said.
"Imposing a flat levy can only have the effect of reducing demand."
During his testimony, Mr Denman also revealed that more than half of the 14,000 Uber drivers in Victoria, drive for fewer than 10 hours a week.
He said the average earnings of a Melbourne Uber driver per hour was "well under $30".
But Mr Denman said the lion's share of every Uber fare went to the driver, not to Uber.
At the hearing yesterday, the taxi industry said it also opposed the levy.
David Samuel from the Victorian Taxi Association said the $2 charge "represents the biggest single fare increase in a long time".
The Andrews Government expects the levy will raise $44 million annually.
The new levy will be introduced from 2018.