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Nationals secure win for regional WA on taxi legislation

Taxis and private charter operators in regional Western Australia will be spared from Labor’s new passenger transport tax after The Nationals WA successfully negotiated an exemption.

Spokesperson for transport Vince Catania said the exemption was a win for regional WA.

“This exemption was critical to ensure regional operators are not forced to hike prices in order to pay for a buy-back of taxi plates in the metropolitan area,” Mr Catania said.

“The Nationals negotiated to ring-fence regional WA from Labor’s new tax, which will place a 10 per cent increase on the cost of every trip taken, whether in a taxi, a private charter vehicle, or as a tourism operator.

“This exemption will also apply to trips originating in the regions and terminating in the city and vice versa, allowing taxis and private charters which link regional communities to Perth Airport or other metropolitan locations to be exempt from Labor’s new tax.”

The Transport (Road Passenger Services) Bill 2018 is set to be passed by State Parliament as early as next week. It will bring all on-demand passenger transport operators including taxi drivers, ride-sharing services such as Uber, private charters and tourism operators under one piece of legislation.

Nationals WA Leader Mia Davies said the exemption was essential for many regional passenger transport operators and community members that these services as their primary mode of transport.

“In many regional towns taxi transport is the only form of public transport available. It is absolutely vital for people who need to attend GP appointments, do their shopping and remain active and connected to their communities,” Ms Davies said.

“Labor’s plan to increase the cost of taxi fares and private charters by 10 per cent would have had a significant impact on regional operators and the communities that use them.”

Mr Catania said The Nationals WA had also sought a guarantee that the Country Age Pension Fuel Card would continue to operate in its current form and would not be impacted by changes to the industry.

“The Nationals have also asked the Labor Government to investigate allowing the Country Age Pension Fuel Card to be utilised in private charter vehicles, particularly in those communities which may not have a taxi service and to investigate the digitising of the Taxi User Subsidy Scheme voucher system,” he said.

“We have been given an assurance that these issues will be examined further by the Government and we continue to pursue this outcome as the Bill progresses through Parliament.”

A transitional assistance package to support taxi operators in Mandurah and Murray will also be delivered.

Mr Catania said the regional taxi exemptions were further proof of The Nationals ability to deliver the best outcomes for regional families, businesses and communities.