Source: Workplace Express, https://www.workplaceexpress.com.au Opinions divided on the $2 levy Victorian Taxi Association chief executive Georgia Nicholls has backed comments made by former state Premier Jeff Kennett yesterday that taxi operators have lost homes and livelihoods as a result of financial stress since ride share operators entered the market. On Tuesday Nicholls and Kennett addressed a Parliamentary hearing for Victoria's inquiry into the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Bill (see Related Article). The Bill seeks to implement the first stage of state reforms to commercial passenger vehicles, including removing major licensing fees and placing a $2 levy on each passenger transaction to help fund a compensation package for the current taxi industry. The Victorian Taxi Association is calling for the creation of a single licence for all commercial passenger vehicle services, uniform requirements across the industry and a "transition payment" for licence holders to acknowledge the hardship they now face. Nicholls told Workplace Express today that the VTA supports the Victorian Government's approach to reforming the industry, but said it was "only fair" to compensate licence holders who bought a "government-regulated product" based on what it was worth at the time. She said it was yet to be determined how the $2 levy would be deducted, and there was a chance it could predominantly fall back onto incumbent members of the taxi industry. While the VTA supports the "kind of protection the government is trying to build up over time", Nicholls said this could be "undermined by an inability to ensure compliance", including via ride share operators' ability to evade detection to avoid paying the levy. Uber spokesperson Mike Scott today told Workplace Express that the organisation "welcomes the spirit of the Bill and its intention to open up competition and unlock greater choice for consumers". However he said a "new and permanent $2 tax on transport (would) undermine the benefits of reform". "We know other states and territories have implemented reforms without imposing such a significant cost on the travelling public and we've encouraged the Victorian Parliament to look at alternative models," Scott said. He said Uber had been collecting a $1 levy on behalf of South Australia for every trip since the start of this month, as required by its new legislation. A spokesperson for RideShare Drivers United said most drivers did not support a $2 levy and believed a $1 levy split between the customer, operator and driver was fairer. He said they were also "of the opinion that a certain minimum limit should be applied to fare prices and work conditions across all platforms". "This to ensure drivers on all platforms take home at least minimum wage after accounting for all car depreciation and maintenance expenses," the spokesperson said. Ride-share legislation revs up taxi industry Thursday, May 25, 2017, 4:23pm Queensland's peak taxi body has hit out at state laws passed overnight extending licensing and safety restrictions to ride-share services, while a Victorian counterpart says it is concerned that new protections in that state will be undermined by an inability to enforce compliance. Queensland Parliament last night passed the Transport and Other Legislation (Personalised Transport Reform) Amendment Bill, requiring all booking entities be authorised and introducing annual licensing fees, safety and fatigue management requirements and penalties (see Related Article). Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said the legislation "provides greater consistency across the industry and a fairer playing field for all", and said the Palaszczuk Government was also committed to establishing an ombudsman or similar to provide complaint monitoring and advisory services. However Taxi Council Queensland chief executive Benjamin Walsh said the state government had "turned its back" on minimum working conditions for drivers in the personalised transport sector and "an uneven playing field in the personalised transport space is now enshrined in law". The legislation removes long-standing bailment requirements governing the revenue split between operators and drivers, which Walsh says are also used to ensure minimum rights and conditions. He said the laws placed booked hire services under no obligation to implement any safety and service standards and sent a message to small business to "cut corners in order to cut costs so that consumers can save a buck at the expense of workers and the most vulnerable in the community". Minister Bailey told Parliament yesterday that removing legislative requirements governing bailment arrangements did not invalidate or prevent their use, and said the government would also review driver conditions 18 months after the requirements are removed.