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Picture: Laurie Benson
Camera IconPicture: Laurie Benson

Albany MLA Peter Watson says he is expecting more support for struggling regional taxi drivers to be announced as part of today’s State Budget.

Mr Watson, right, said he had lobbied Transport Minister Rita Saffioti to set aside more financial assistance for local taxi drivers ahead of the new State on-demand transport reforms.

In a letter to the editor published by the Albany Advertiser last Thursday, Albany deputy Mayor and former Liberal party candidate Greg Stocks criticised Mr Watson for what he claimed was a lack of action.

In the letter, Mr Stocks called on Mr Watson to “do something” to help local taxi operators continue servicing the city.

“Taxi services have been lost in Albany due to these upcoming changes,” Mr Stocks said.

His comments came after the owner of Albany’s biggest taxi service said he might soon follow Denmark and Katanning operators in closing his business due to the controversial transport reforms.

“A metropolitan taxi-plate owner will receive about $100,000 in compensation for the changes to the taxi industry rules,” Mr Stocks said.

“If you own a taxi plate in regional WA, you get nothing. The 17 taxi plates owned in Albany, purchased at an average cost of $120,000, will receive nothing.”

However, Mr Watson disputed those comments and said Mr Stocks did not get his facts right.

Mr Watson said he was successful in making sure the 10 per cent on-demand transport levy would not apply in Albany and the regions.

“Mr Stocks is either ignorant or misinformed,” Mr Watson said.

“The owned taxi-plate buyback is not compensation. Around half of all taxis in Perth hold privately owned plates — the other half lease their plates from the State Government.

“Country taxis have always operated under different legislation on an annual licence system issued for free through an expression-of-interest process, or as part of the sale or purchase of a taxi-operating business.”

Mr Watson said he expected to see more financial assistance for regional taxi services in today’s Budget.

“We’re giving existing operators more control over their businesses and making it easier and cheaper for people to provide much-needed taxi services to their community,” he said.

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