January 22, 2018

Regional taxi, tourism industry to fund Government’s metro taxi plan

The State Opposition has hit out at plans by the McGowan Government to impose the ten per cent levy on fare revenue, as part of its on-demand transport reforms, on regional taxi and charter services when the reforms are focused on the metropolitan area.

Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for Transport, Liza Harvey said the reforms had the potential to significantly impact on-demand transport services in regional Western Australia, hitting the hip pockets of regional families, tourists, taxi drivers and charter operators.

“Once again the McGowan Government is looking to regional Western Australia to pay for its election commitments,” Ms Harvey said.

“The Government said it would not introduce any new taxes. Not only is this a new tax, it is being imposed in areas where the operators paying it are not part of the Government’s buy-back scheme.

“I have heard concerns from operators around the state who have said the changes proposed by the government will see many leave the industry, not because of the ride-sharing technology itself, but in light of a government getting in the way and imposing unwarranted costs on an industry which is only just starting to feel the impacts of Uber and others.

“While regional WA is yet to feel the full impact of ride-sharing technology, there is concern the policy changes proposed by the Government could see the withdrawal of taxi services from regional areas where they have an important role in providing transport to seniors, the disabled, tourists and others who cannot drive or have access to public transport.

“A significant concern of these regional operators is that they are not provided with any compensation, despite the fact they are expected to contribute to the metropolitan compensation package through the 10% increase in fares.”

Shadow Minister for Tourism and Small Business, Libby Mettam said there were significant concerns from the charter industry that its services will be impacted by the Government’s proposed levy.

“They are concerned they are being asked to contribute towards one sector of the community they are not aligned to,” Ms Mettam said.

“Charter services are instrumental in the role they play in affordable inbound tourism across the state.

“There is no logic for pushing the costs for the taxi buyback scheme for city plate owners onto the charter industry who have no link to the ride-sharing industry or the taxi industry whatsoever.

“The impact of these proposed changes would be twofold – it will impact these small businesses but also have an impact on the transport services which provide a vital role in providing low cost travel around the state.

Ms Mettam said charter operators already paid a range of taxes, fees and charges, including special licences for charter vehicles, national park entry fees, standard road licences, various insurances to comply with the regulations, payroll tax, superannuation and workers compensation, and the Government’s levy was an unnecessary hit on the industry.

“It will potentially impact the most vulnerable in the community. Charters are used by schools for camps, swimming lessons, day trips to Perth and this will increase those costs.

“Charters are used throughout the tourism industry, such as for wine tours and other tours. This levy will impact across the tourism sector.

“Charters are used by the elderly for their day tours and extended tours. These services are used extensively by regional and rural communities and the levy will be imposed on these operators to fund Labor’s metropolitan taxi plan.

The Opposition said the Government needed to undertake further consultation with the regional communities and charter operators to ensure their concerns were heard and responded to with an appropriate policy response.

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