NSW Taxi Drivers Accept $905 Million Government Deal

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Taxi drivers have approved a nearly $1 billion compensation package for taxi license holders as NSW’s prime minister appears well on track to get his pet policy of removing stamp duty for first-time homebuyers passed.

The NSW Taxi Council on Tuesday accepted a $905 million package that would compensate drivers for hugely devalued taxi plates in the face of competition with popular ride-share apps like Uber.

The decision to accept the proposed package was on the condition that the payments were linked to capital gains tax to minimize the tax payable, as Victoria did for its compensation package, said Martin Rogers, head of the NSW Taxi Council.

“We are now asking the minister to introduce the legislation and have it ready by the time parliament is ready,” he said.

Under the revamped schedule announced Monday, the fee will be $150,000 for Sydney taxi plates and between $40,000 and $195,000 for regional plate holders.

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For passengers, this means paying an extra 20 cents per trip and paying a charge after the original end date of June 2029.

With a 10 percent GST surcharge on top, the actual cost of the charge will be $1.32 per trip.

It will be discussed in parliament in the last three weeks of the session before the March elections.

Another major piece of legislation on the agenda is Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet’s pet policy to allow first-time homebuyers to avoid stamp duties and choose to pay a rolling land tax on properties up to $1.5 million.

An upper house inquiry that brought debate on the bill to a halt has since recommended that the debate continue.

Government bureaucrats are preparing to start the scheme as intended in January, but Labor has promised to withdraw the scheme if it wins government in March.

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“We hope it goes down,” opposition leader Chris Minns told reporters on Monday.

“Our concern has always been that this will be a Trojan horse to extend the land tax on family homes, which has been the goal of NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet for years.”

Mr Perrottet says the proposal is about choice.

“Labor should get out of the way and allow people to make their own decisions about what suits them,” he said Monday.

“Right now Chris Minns is standing at the doorway and saying ‘go away’ to every first home buyer.”

The government has been working with the MPs needed to pass the bill, Perrottet said.

For several high-ranking ministers, it will be their last weeks in parliament.

Brad Hazzard holds the record for tenure, retiring in March after more than three decades, while Victor Dominello, Rob Stokes, David Elliott and Geoff Lee are among the outgoing ministers and MPs.

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NSW voters will go to the polls on March 25 to decide whether the coalition, which is currently in a minority government, will receive a fourth term after 12 years in power.

It will be the first electoral test for the leadership of Perrottet, who became prime minister after Gladys Berejiklian stepped down in October 2021 over an investigation by TBEN Commission Against Corruption that has yet to report its findings.

Labor lost in a landslide in 2011 after 16 years of government, but has taken a lead in recent polls.

Minns has warned his party not to get cocky, but some Labor MPs have already called him the next prime minister of NSW.