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Fair and equitable compensation for taxi plate owners.

Call for WA regional taxi deal

As stated in the Esperance Express on  MAY 9 2019, South West MLC Steve Thomas raised a disallowance motion in parliament on Tuesday to reverse the state government’s compensation package for metro taxis.

 

The motion was being raised to spur the state government into negotiations with regional taxi operators, who have taken a hit after ride sharing companies such as Uber started operating in regional WA.

 

The metro compensation package was introduced in late 2018 prior to Uber operating in the regions.

 

The state government scheme allowed eligible metro plate owners the opportunity to voluntarily trade in their plates and receive compensation.

 

That compensation was funded from a 10 per cent levy, slumped on metro operators.

 

Dr Thomas said he had been contacted by a number of taxi companies in the South West, Great Southern and Kalgoorlie who all had experienced issues.

 

“It circulates around the whole Uber debate, there was a levy applied that would go to the metro area to payback taxi plate owners because Uber was only in the metro areas,” he said.

 

“A deal was struck so the taxi levy would not go on regional taxis, which precluded them from any compensation.”

 

Mr Thomas said now Uber had moved into Busselton and Bunbury it had devalued regional plates, and in his view, if there was a value taxi operators could charge it did not matter if it was called a leased or purchased plate.

 

“Regional country taxis have purchased what they thought were plates, even though it was only really a lease and the government have effectively told regional taxi drivers to go jump,” he said.

 

“I will be lobbying the Upper House members on the cross bench to support the disallowance and I will ask the government to negotiate in good faith with regional taxi drivers.

 

“If they do so and we can resolve this at any point in the next four months I can withdraw the disallowance motion.

 

“The best outcome would be that the state government negotiate with regional taxis and an agreement is reached.”

 

The impact of ride sharing has been felt by Busselton Taxis, with Jeff Devenny telling the Mail last year they were down 40 to 50 jobs on Friday and Saturday nights after Uber started.

 

Without a regulated taxi service, regional towns like Busselton risk losing a 24/7 service and wheelchair vehicles.

 

Busselton Taxi operator Janet Devenny said on Christmas Day alone they had transported around 40 people who required a taxi with wheelchair access to their families.

 

“We are there at 5.30am when FIFO workers need a lift to get to the airport and there at 1.30am when South West Coach Lines bring people home,” Mr Devenny said.

 

“Ride sharers do not have to be there to do that, but we do, and we pride ourselves on that.”

 

Ms Boletti said if there was no taxi service with wheelchair access available to her she would be left stranded.

 

Transport Minister Rita Safiotti did not respond to questions in time for publication.

 

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam told parliament last month there was a big impact in the regions in the way services would be provided to vulnerable people.

 

Ms Mettam said the government had already delivered cuts to the South West Wheels program, which supported disabled people with wheelchair access and transport across regional WA.

 

“Busselton Taxis provided 20 jobs a day for people in wheelchairs and there is concern about how those with a disability will be supported into the future,” she said.

Reference:  More information on WA Regional Taxi Deal is available from Esperance Express.

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