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Reviewing taxi subsidies: what will it mean?

Laurette and Barry McLaren. Photo by Sue Hutchinson

LAURETTE and Barry McLaren, members of the Emmanuel Uniting Church congregation at Enoggera, Brisbane, have relied on taxis to go about their daily lives for many years.

Mrs McLaren has cerebral palsy and Mr McLaren has frequent seizures.

They can't go anywhere without taxis.

The Queensland Government is reviewing the Taxi Subsidy Scheme and other funded transport schemes.

The initial intention to cap taxi subsidies at $400 per person per year was met with community outrage, because of the implications for beneficiaries like Mrs and Mr McLaren whose use exceeds that amount.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson stated on 11 October that, "While an annual $400 cap was previously proposed, the panel will be asked to explore other viable options for the scheme going forward".

The expert panel will include disability representatives as well as taxi operators, and will report in mid-2013.

Mrs McLaren's mobility is affected by her condition, and she needs to travel everywhere with her walker, which is too large to fit into most cars.

Mr McLaren has several times come out of a seizure at the end of a bus route, to find that he has missed his stop and been robbed.

The taxi subsidy scheme enables them to do their shopping, go to church, keep medical appointments, do voluntary work and visit Mrs McLaren's mother in a nursing home.

Their lives would be severely restricted by limits to their taxi subsidies.

"Doctors say to be active and get involved with life," Mrs McLaren says.

"It will slow our lives right down.

"And it will just land people more quickly into a home.

It's making people get old before they are."

Interested people will be able to make submissions to the review in coming months.

View Minister Scott Emerson's statement from 11 October at statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2012/10/11/taxischeme-review-underway.

Participate in the Queenslanders with Disability Network survey of members of the Taxi subsidy Scheme.

Photo : Laurette and Barry McLaren. Photo by Sue Hutchinson