Victoria’s Liberal opposition has thrown its support behind a campaign calling on the state government to offer drivers financial relief for car registration costs as rolling COVID-19 lockdowns continue.
More than 57,000 Victorians have signed an online petition demanding a “fair go” for drivers as their cars sit idle in driveways and garages.
Melburnians have spent more than 240 days in lockdown since the pandemic began, among the most of any city in the world.
Melbourne woman Ruth Gould is one driver who has been campaigning for the government to offer a rebate or slash rego fees because of the lockdowns.
“I just think it’s nuts that I am paying more than $800 rego for a car that I can’t use,” she said.
The annual registration renewal cost for a regular vehicle in the Melbourne metropolitan area is $845, with around 60 per cent of the fee going towards a Transport Accident Charge (TAC).
Ms Gould, who runs a small business and has lost income due to COVID-19, said the government needed to look at providing some form of financial relief for drivers.
“I am lucky because I can open the cupboard and there is food in there but I know there are many people doing it tougher than me right now who will be struggling to pay their rego fees.”
Victoria’s shadow treasury spokesperson David Davis said drivers in Victoria needed to be cut some slack.
“Victorians have suffered through what will soon be the longest lockdown on the planet,” Mr Davis said.
“When they are allowed to leave home, they’ve only been able to drive five kilometres at the most.
“To pause registration charges – or provide some temporary relief – would be a fair and reasonable move.
“It would be welcome relief and a reward for Victorians hard hit by the government’s failure to properly manage the pandemic.”
Victorian driver Dion, who started the online petition, said he felt compelled to take action after getting his registration notice in the mail a few weeks ago.
“I got the renewal notice and it was quite a lot of money,” he said.
“I’ve been at home working from home, so not really using my car.
“There have obviously been the 5km restrictions and restrictions on only leaving home for certain reasons.”
Dion said he was hoping the government would take his petition seriously and offer some financial relief for motorists, whether it be in the form of whole or partial rebates or fee discounts according to the proportion of the year spent in lockdown.
The Victorian Government froze any increases in registration fees at the beginning of this year as part of its $419 million COVID-19 relief package.
When asked about the petition, Department of Transport Head of Transport Services, Nick Foa, said in a statement: “If Victorians have had a change in their personal circumstances, they may now be eligible for concession discounts on their registration.
“Discounted registration is available for pensioners, people with disabilities, and people on JobSeeker payments who have health care cards.
“Short-term registration is providing flexibility while helping to relieve financial pressure, giving motorists the option to pay their vehicle registration at three or six-month intervals.”
The campaign comes as some companies, such as car and health insurers, offer discounts for customers during lockdowns.
Insurer Youi is offering a temporary discount of 15 per cent on premiums to Victorian and NSW customers who are using their car less due to lockdowns.
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