Licence testing to resume, but more work still to be done
Young drivers in the Lowan electorate have finally received the news they have been eagerly anticipating – VicRoads will resume learner permit and licence testing from next week.
Drivers across the region have been patiently waiting for months to learn when they will be able to take their rite of passage and sit a driving test, after testing was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said her office had received numerous enquiries from concerned and understandably frustrated families about when testing would be available again.
The Liberal Nationals have repeatedly called on the Andrews Labor Government to detail its plans and extend the operation of its limited COVID-19 testing program, which provided exemptions for some people on compassionate grounds but excluded any drivers hoping to sit a manual licence test in a regional area.
“In communities such as ours, getting your licence isn't so much of a choice as a necessity. Young people rely on the opportunity to gain their licence so they can work and support themselves and, in some cases, their families as well,” Ms Kealy said.
“The compassionate grounds option was important, but the state government’s implementation was illogical. In many cases, people from our area who were eligible were told they would have to travel outside our electorate to sit the test. For the government to expect people to travel long distances, when their messaging around COVID-19 had encouraged people to do the exact opposite, was foolish and unfair.”
Ms Kealy said testing would resume progressively from Monday, June 15.
“People who had an appointment booked before testing was postponed will be prioritised for re-booking, in order of cancellation. VicRoads will contact these people directly to reschedule tests,” she said.
“New appointments will be available once the backlog of postponed tests is cleared.”
Ms Kealy said though testing resuming would no doubt come as a relief to many, the government still needed to do more to ensure people in rural areas particularly would not be faced with many more months of waiting.
“The Andrews Labor Government needs to ensure there is an increase in appointment availability so that people are not further disadvantaged by delays. Extending opening hours and testing days, and allowing tests on weekends are two initiatives that will significantly reduce the backlog,” she said.
“The VicRoads offices in regional Victoria that only offer driving tests one or two days a week must have their capacity increased to help them work through this massive backlog as soon as possible.
“The state government needs to guarantee that testing centres in regional Victoria are allocated extra staff so they can extend testing to help clear the backlog as a matter of priority.”
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