Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (21:19): (1580) My adjournment is for the Treasurer in the other place. The taxi and hire car industry has faced devastation throughout these lockdowns, and I commend the government for including the commercial passenger vehicle operators in the business costs assistance program. These support payments have been a lifeline to an industry that has already been on its knees since the reforms of 2017. However, my understanding is that these support payments will end at the beginning of November. This is too soon. Restrictions and border closures still limit most of the industry in supplying their services. This is an industry that is absolutely dependent on tourism, the events sector and travel. The industry’s bread and butter is driving the suits and the tourists from airports to major events and conferences. In fact it would typically amount to 70 to 80 per cent of all hire car trips.
As the tourism and events sectors have been decimated, so has the financial viability of thousands of drivers who depend on this sector to put food on the table. That is why continued support payments are critical to maintaining the financial viability of taxi operators and hire car drivers who provide an essential service to our community. This ensures that wheelchair-accessible vehicles can stay on the road and continue to serve Victoria’s most vulnerable. Our industry will not recover on 30 October; to think otherwise is incredibly naive. Commonwealth support for Victorians will be withdrawn. However, I do not think that should limit our state government from continuing to support Victorian businesses who face heavy restrictions. How can business for drivers be back to normal when the borders are shut and the passengers can only travel 25 kilometres from their home?
Extended support has been provided to the events industry. Given that the taxi and hire car industries depend on tourism and events, it is only fitting that they are granted an extension as well. So the action I seek is: will the government extend the business costs assistance package for the taxi and hire car industry out until 28 February 2022?
See speech here.