Region’s cabbies seek plate compo

Saskia AdystiThe West Australian

Albany taxi drivers want the State Government to include them in the taxi plate buy-back scheme.

The scheme was introduced to compensate metropolitan taxi drivers up to $100,000 for the value of their taxi plates, which has plummeted in recent years because of competition from companies such as Uber.

To subsidise the scheme, the Government will imposed a 10 per cent revenue tax on all taxis, charter services and Uber. Regional taxi drivers will also pay the 10 per cent tax even though they are not eligible for the scheme. Albany City Cabs owner Tim O’Donnell said the decision was a kick in the guts for all regional taxi drivers.

“We’ve been screwed over — they’ve decided upon this reform with hardly any contacts with regional taxi drivers,” he said.

“We have always been treated separately, but in my experiences, if there’s any positive changes happening in the industry – we don’t get offered anything – but if it’s negative we will get chucked in it”

“The 10 per cent tax is one issue but they’re also going to loosen the regulation to make any plates able to go anywhere in the State.”

As well as the buy-back scheme, the proposed on-demand transport reform will allow taxi drivers to operate anywhere they like and not be restricted to a certain metropolitan or regional area. Restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed to operate in a single area are also being dropped.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the proposed reform would benefit regional taxi operators and allow them to compete in the industry better.

“It is also important to note that that revenue collected from regional operators will be used to support regional services and not used to fund the buy-back for taxi plates in the metropolitan area,” she said.

But Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson disagreed.

He said the reform would threaten the viability of taxi and charter services in regional areas.

“We are at risk of losing an industry that provides an important service, particularly for elderly residents,” Mr Wilson said.

“If other drivers came in only during the peak time, when it’s the only time these taxi drivers are making good amounts of money, then they wouldn’t be able to compete.

“At the very least, the State Government should be offering the same compensation to regional operators if they’re serious about acknowledging the significant changes to the on-demand transport industry.”

Mr Wilson has urged Opposition Leader Mike Nahan to block the legislation during State Parliament,

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