29 April 2021
Today I want to recognise the struggles experienced by the transport operators in regional and rural Victoria. I was lucky enough to tour our regions only just recently, meeting with many of our hardworking individuals. I would like to thank Bendigo Taxis, who took my team and me out in a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, showing us how things work and sharing their concerns and fears. This was a very important reminder that wheelchair vehicles are an absolutely essential service that is relied on by the community in regional and rural Victoria. We must do what we can to ensure that these operators can continue to operate.
I also met the great team down at Taxis of Portland. Small business is tough enough at the best of times in small towns; these unique challenges have been compounded by the devastating reforms of 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, seeing how they have continued to persevere, rebuilding their businesses so they can continue to support the Portland community, is nothing short of inspirational. These stories are not uncommon. Our transport operators in these regions are facing immense challenges, but without them communities can be left with no taxi services at all. It is not difficult to see what a critical role they play in supporting social mobility. For many individuals in rural and regional areas, these taxis are the only way of getting from A to B. There is consensus in the taxi and hire car industry that the government must do more, and I look forward to working with the government to address these challenges.
See speech here