Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said today she was appalled that the Liberals, Nationals and Greens had refused to pass legislation which would have seen the State Government buy back up to 56 Multi Purpose Taxi (MPT) plates in order to drive down the costs for operators and improve service to customers.
The non-Government members of` the Legislative Council refused to approve the Bill or to sit longer so the issues could be deliberated.
Under the arrangement, each of the State’s 56 MPT owners of transferable plates would have been offered at least $108,000 to relinquish ownership of their plate. The entire program was expected to cost around $6.2million.
“The State Government is serious about improving MPT services to the disabled community, including the number of MPTs on the road and the number of qualified drivers available to operate MPTs,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“However, it seems the Liberals and Nationals do not have this same commitment and have indicated that they had been lobbied by the Taxi Council of Western Australia, which does not support the buyback.
“The majority of MPT operators support the Bill, and indeed lobbied the Government to introduce the scheme.
“This proposed legislation was just one plank of the State Government’s ‘big picture’ investment in improving MPT services.
“However, the opposition parties’ refusal to join the State Government in supporting the MPT buyback means that it cannot proceed before early next year, when the Standing Committee makes its findings to the Legislative Council.”
The Minister said the Gallop Government was serious about getting the best outcomes for the taxi industry.
“Just last week, I committed to a $5 fuel subsidy to be provided to diesel MPT operators for each wheelchair job undertaken through the Taxi User Subsidy Scheme over the next 18 months,” she said.
“This support was in recognition of the higher operating costs of these particular vehicles that currently do not have the benefit of LPG fuelled engines.
“I will continue to examine ways to improve the viability of the MPT sector and call on members in the Upper House to show this same commitment.
“I share the frustration many taxi drivers will be now be feeling and hope that Upper House members Simon O’Brien, Murray Criddle and Paul Llewellyn are ready to front up to drivers and explain why they have blocked this important legislation.”
Minister's office: 9213 6400