MEMBER for Lowan Hugh Delahunty has defended his support for a controversial change to Victoria’s taxi industry.
From July 1, taxi operators will have to split taxi fares 45:55 with taxi drivers, with drivers receiving the majority of the share.
The new arrangement will cut taxi operators’ incomes by 10 per cent.
Mr Delahunty was among parliamentarians who supported the move, despite dissent from taxi operators in his electorate.
“All government members supported the changes, and I was one of them,” he said.
“Professor Allan Fels did a report into the taxi industry, which was mainly driven because of problems in Melbourne.
“There was a recommendation that drivers get 60 per cent of fares and owners get 40 per cent; parliament approved a 45:55 split.”
Mr Delahunty acknowledged the measure’s unpopularity.
“I do know from talking to taxi operators, especially in the country, that they are not happy with the new arrangement,’’ he said.
“In my 15 years in parliament, I had not had a complaint about the taxi services in Lowan electorate.”
He said the 45:55 split was unlikely to be changed because it had already passed through parliament.
But Mr Delahunty said parliamentarians were still working on taxi fares and apportioning of costs.
“A regulatory impact statement is being written,” he said.
“I am still working with several of my country colleagues to look at ways to minimise the impact of the 45:55 split on taxi operators.
“Us country members are all concerned about the viability of regional taxi services, and are looking at other ways to do this.”
Mr Delahunty said there were some other taxi industry reforms that would come into effect alongside the 45:55 split that would help country taxi operators offset their costs.
Taxis no longer have to be painted taxi yellow.
From July 1, country operators can set their own fares.
Horsham Taxi Service owner Max Hood said he was interested to know how Mr Delahunty planned to minimise the 45:55 fare split impost.
He said he was disappointed the Member for Lowan supported it in the first place.
“It wouldn’t be so hard for the government to relegislate it to 50:50 if they wanted to, realising they had made a mistake,” Mr Hood said.
“If they reinstate the 50:50 split we won’t have to put up the price, but if it stays at 45:55 we will have to put our fares up.”