Thursday, 8 April 2021

Labor MLA for Lismore urges Berejiklian Government to consider taxi licence buyback scheme

Office of the NSW Labor MLA for Lismore, Janelle Saffin, media release, 7 April 2021:

Saffin goes into bat for Lismore’s hard-working taxi drivers

TOP RANK: Lismore MP Janelle Saffin with taxi owner/drivers, from left, Justin Stevenson, Gurdeep Singh, Richard Hunter and Vikram Singh following their recent meeting.

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin is going into bat for local hard-working taxi owner/drivers, once again calling on the NSW Government not to abandon them by allowing their taxi licences to be devalued until they are worthless.

Ms Saffin has written to NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance and NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, asking them to throw taxi owner/drivers a financial lifeline so they are not left high and dry when they retire from the industry.

In Lismore, there are 19 owners of taxis in our local co-operative, all respected small business owners who work incredibly hard serving our community,” Ms Saffin said.

They are facing financial stress as a result of the decreasing value of taxi licences in New South Wales. They are concerned about their future and feel like they are being abandoned by the NSW Government.

They’re worried about the sharp drop in the value of their taxi plates, that the Government’s support schemes are not nearly enough and that current Government regulations are failing to deal with how ride sharing has impacted taxi drivers.”

The NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the Operation of Point to Point Transport Act 2016 found that taxi licences have incurred a net loss of at least 80 per cent in value since 2015.

This inquiry recommended that the NSW Government establish a buyback scheme for the taxi licenses.

Ms Saffin said a buyback scheme could be paid for by the NSW Government’s $1-per-trip Passenger Service Levy, introduced in February 2018 to raise up to $250 million over five years towards an industry assistance package.

I am strongly encouraging Ministers Constance and Toole to adopt the inquiry’s recommendation to give our taxi drivers financial security into the future,” Ms Saffin said.

Our local taxi drivers have also expressed to me how they have gone into debt to initially purchase their taxi licences and now that they are so devalued, they are left with the debt over their heads.

These are not wealthy people and we must act to avoid our taxi drivers being left high and dry.”

Since 2009, Lismore’s taxi drivers have completed over three million trips.

According to Ms Saffin, they provide outstanding community service to the elderly, people with a disability and many locals who don’t own a car and need transport.

The MP has offered to work with Ministers Constance and Tool to give taxi drivers a fair go.

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