Stakeholder reference group (SRG) meeting
Dec 15 2016
On Wednesday 14th of December the TSC held an SRG meeting to update participants on plans for implementing the Governments announced reforms. Below is a summary of the information provided.
The TSC outlined the intended content of the two tranches of legislation:
Tranche 1 – February 2017
• Changes to hire car licensing to remove the charge for a perpetual hire car and replace it with an annual administrative fee. The TSC still do not know how much this fee will be. This change will effectively legalise ridesharing services and thereby render VHA, VHB and VHC licenses redundant. Restricted hire and special purpose licenses will also be transitioned to the new fee.
• Creation of the transition assistance package in legislation.
• Establishment of the framework for the collection of the $2 trip levy. This will include who is responsible for the collection of the levy, equipment and record keeping requirements, and compliance and enforcement powers. It is envisaged that collection of the levy will not commence until 2018.
• Changes to the definition of Network Service Providers to include hire car and ridesharing booking services. This will involve changes to reporting requirements and accreditation processes for networks.
• Establishment of a Disability Commissioner within the TSC.
At the same time as the passage of tranche 1 of legislation the Government will:
• Confirm details of license ownership and begin payments of the transition assistance. It is intended that the first of these payments will be made by the end of June 2017. The Department are still not sure the exact timing or breakdown of payments. All transition assistance payments will be made within two years of the passage of the first piece of legislation.
• The TSC will make available new annual taxi licenses for an administrative fee likely to be similar to that established for hire car licenses. The amount of this fee is still unknown. No other changes to taxi regulations will be made at this time, taxis will be expected to continue to comply with current requirements. This will effectively render all perpetual licenses redundant and is the reason why it is imperative this action is taken concurrent to the payment of transition assistance.
Tranche 2 – Late 2017?
• Establishment of a single vehicle registration system for commercial passenger vehicles (taxis and hire cars).
• Fare deregulation and driver protections e.g. consideration of implied conditions including fare box splits.
• New accountability model for service providers.
It is still unclear the exact nature of requirements that will be imposed on hire cars following this first tranche of legislation, for example, registration and insurance requirements, livery rules and the type of licence plates that will be used. It is vital that the changes deliver competitive equality for all providers of CPV services.
Transition assistance and other questions
SRG participants asked many questions of the TSC and Departmental representatives, many of which are yet to be resolved. Further information gathered at the meeting includes:
• The status of transition assistance payments for the purposes of taxation is yet to be known but the Department have sought a ruling from the ATO. Questions were raised as to whether there could be some flexibility in the structure of assistance payments in circumstances where it may avoid adverse tax treatment e.g. for recipients of the aged pension. The VTA will seek further advice on this.
• It is understood the department have secured a ruling from Centrelink on how transition assistance payments will affect entitlements. This has not be made available to the industry but the VTA will distribute once obtained.
• Numerous questions were asked about the entitlement to transition assistance payments in circumstances where licenses are held in multiple names or entities. The Department advised the restriction of assistance payments to four licenses would be ‘per entity’. Information provided at the time of the original August announcement stated restriction would apply to ‘individuals’. The VTA will continue to seek clarity on this important issue.
• It was identified that the table published by the Department outlining transition assistance payments suggested payments on four licenses would be available per license type held. This issue was also raised for clarification.
As we have previously communicated, applications for the fairness fund are now open.
We strongly encourage all those affected by the changes to licensing to apply to the fund. The eligibility criteria is significantly different to the previous hardship fund. It is also important that all those affected apply because it is vital that Government fully appreciate the extent of the impact of these changes.
For those who expressed interest by registering with the Department between August and November, you still need to complete an application in order to be considered for funds.
You can find more information about how to apply and support available on our website.