Question without notice: Taxi licences & Ubers
Tuesday 21 September 2021
Ms ARMITAGE question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
Regarding the allocation and management of taxi licences in the state:
(1) Does the Government acknowledge there are marked differences between the regulatory requirements on rideshare operators (for example Uber) compared to taxis licensed in Tasmania?
(2) Can the Leader please advise the rationale behind the 24 taxi areas in this state?
(3) Would the Government consider amalgamating the 24 taxi areas into, for example, a south, north and north‑west scheme to minimise confusion and assist taxi drivers to operate?
(4) To put taxis and rideshare operators on a more even playing field, would the Government consider requiring rideshare operators to operate with similar limitations to taxi drivers, such as confinement to certain areas and other similar regulatory matters?
Mr President, I thank the member for her question.
(1) In October 2021, the Tasmanian Parliament passed the On-Demand Passenger Transport Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2020. The act, when fully implemented, provides consumers with choice and levels the playing field between rideshare such as Uber and taxi operators regarding regulatory requirements.
The act provides a modern equitable framework that enables the safe, competitive and accessible operation of the on‑demand passenger transport industry, including taxis and rideshare operators. It enables the streamlining of regulatory arrangements and will see administrative costs that have historically only been associated with the taxi and hire vehicle industry shared across all operators.
(2) Separate taxi areas were established following the conversion of former cab licences to perpetual taxi licences in the 1990s, largely reflecting the operating area specified in those former licences. A small number of the former cab areas were amalgamated, resulting in the current 24 taxi areas.
The establishment of taxi areas was designed to ensure taxis were available in smaller regions, avoiding the situation where taxis would gravitate to areas of greater demand and licence purchase prices were established in consideration of that demand. Area restrictions are a relevant concern where there are limits on the issue of licences.
(3) and (4)
Some taxi operators suggest changed or amalgamated taxi areas; however, owner-operator taxi licences are valued differently in different taxi areas.
A Launceston owner-operator who, for example, has paid $35 000 for their licence, would argue against opening their area to an operator from a different zone such as Perth, who has paid $12 500 for their licence.
Three rounds of extensive consultation spanning 2016 to 2020 found, as a whole, the taxi industry overwhelmingly supported the retention of the existing taxi areas. The Government continues to be open to consolidating and amalgamating taxi areas and reducing regulatory burden. However, this will not occur without broad support from the taxi industry.
In the beginning of question (1), I said in October 2021 and it should be October 2020.