Taxi tax fear
The owner of a Wimmera taxi service believes a proposed $2 levy for taxi fares is frightening elderly and disadvantaged people who rely on taxi services in the region.
Horsham Taxis owner-manager Russell Carter said he and his staff had already fielded a variety of concerns from people who feared they would be unable to afford the increased costs.
The State Government wants an indefinite $2 levy system in place for all taxi fares by next year to fund a taxi-license buy-back scheme.
Mr Carter said the concerns had prompted him to organise a petition for Horsham district residents to convince the government to abandon the plan.
Mr Carter said people in the Wimmera could ill-afford to be without regional taxi services and regional taxi services could ill-afford to be without clients.
“This is certainly the scenario we might be looking at if the levy became a reality,” he said.
“I’m not sure the decision makers in Spring Street would realise that about 70 percent of fares for a taxi business operating in Horsham would be for elderly and-or disadvantaged people. If they did, they would not have considered the levy a viable option.
“The government is always busy trying to provide elderly people with good services, but what we’re seeing in this circumstance is giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
“If these people suddenly believe they can’t afford a taxi, they will forego some of their opportunities for social interaction, let alone medical needs, and that’s not good for anyone.
“And of course, we haven’t even mentioned the impact on Joe and Jill Average who might want to simply go out somewhere or get home.”
Mr Carter said the levy proposal fell short of dealing with the issue from a statewide perspective.
“The system the government wants to introduce won’t work fairly across the state, especially in regional areas. It is not a one-size-fits-all idea and will be a greater impost on regional areas than in metropolitan centres.”
He added that providing a taxi service in the country was about offering a vast variety of services and the levy system penalised the short-trip fare, which represented a critical part of regional taxi business.
“We’re doing a lot more short fares compared with the city, which means we would gather more tax from everyday people than our city counterparts. “It’s just not equitable or fair.” Horsham Taxis is distributing petitions and is desperate for the community to get on board in preventing the levy scheme getting through State Parliament.
Mr Carter said the petitions would be on the counter at Horsham medical centres and retirement villages.
“Look, our main concern is the amount of elderly people who rely on our services. It is terrible for them to be caught up in a what comes across as a sneaky tax with no end date,” he said.
“And to be honest, being used as a debt or tax collector for the government, which would also create a high financial cost for us as a business, doesn’t sit well either.”