GREG'S LEGACY

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State Government puts wheelchair taxis at risk

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The mobility of frail, elderly and disabled people living in country Victoria is at risk as a result of the State Government’s plan to means test grants for country taxi operators who purchase wheelchair accessible taxis (WATs).

Nationals Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes, raised these concerns in Parliament this week and has written to the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for taxis seeking immediate removal of the means test on grants for country WATs.

“In response to continuous lobbying from the taxi industry and disability advocates the Bracks Government recently announced a $3 million fund to assist country taxi operators to meet the extra costs of purchasing a WAT rather than a conventional cab (approximately $40,000),” said Dr Sykes.

“For reasons not yet explained the Government requires a ‘means test’ on country taxi operators applying for the grant even though $3 million is sufficient for grants on 100% of the 80 WATs in country Victoria.

“The consequence of this approach is that viable country taxi businesses may choose not to buy WATs because they consider them a business liability requiring cross subsidisation from more profitable, conventional cabs.

“This will ultimately mean less WATs to transport country Victoria’s frail elderly and disabled.

Dr Sykes said demanding a means test of country taxi operators purchasing WATs when city operators did not face the same requirement was absurd.

“The requirement for a means test for country WAT grants is in stark contrast to the subsidies of many thousands of dollars per year provided to Melbourne cab operators to provide WATs – without means tests!

“This is a totally inequitable situation with the Bracks Government once again showing its callous contempt for country Victoria’s elderly and disabled.

“I call on the Government to immediately remove the means test for WAT grants for country taxi operators and live up to its claim to govern for all Victorians,” concluded Dr Sykes

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Written by Greg Naylor

23 August 2006 at 6:27 pm

Posted in media release

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