Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan): My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Public Transport and Minister for Roads and Road Safety, the Honourable Ben Carroll. The Andrews Labor government is preparing for drivers licence tests to resume by providing extra assessment centres, beginning online testing for learners and providing cheaper testing for Victorians impacted by the suspension during the pandemic. The government’s $26.8 million package will make computer-based tests available online and will further boost licence-testing capacity to turbocharge testing after it was put on hold to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Testing will resume in metropolitan Melbourne when the city moves to step 3 of the road map to COVID normal, while online learner permit and hazard perception tests will be available from early next year, with work well underway to deliver these tests while keeping our high standards of road safety. Six more temporary testing sites will open by early in the new year to tackle the backlog and ensure testing can be carried out safely, bringing the total to 12 new sites across Melbourne since June. A further 180 licence-testing officers will be employed to support the expansion, taking the total number of new staff to more than 380.
As Victoria continues towards COVID normal, VicRoads customer service centres and testing sites across Melbourne will deliver up to 11 000 licence tests and 16 500 computer tests per week once all new sites are open. The first priority under the staged resumption of licence testing will be rebooking appointments which had been postponed due to the pandemic. Those with a postponed test will be contacted directly by VicRoads to schedule a new appointment ahead of the expected resumption when Melbourne moves to the third step. Customers who had their appointment suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic will also have their booking fees refunded, and all new appointment fees will be waived until bookings return to normal levels. Across Melbourne the expected demand for services is around 125 000 licence test appointments and 255 000 learner and hazard perception tests. This is in addition to the 80 000 tests which were postponed earlier in the year. The action I seek from the minister is to provide my office an update on how many additional testing sites will be set up in my area of Western Metropolitan Region.
Since June 2020, six additional testing sites have been set up across Melbourne to deliver as many computer-based and licence tests as possible while ensuring that testing can be carried out as safely as possible, in line with the latest medical advice. The new testing sites are in Mulgrave, Coolaroo, Ringwood, Essendon Fields, Cranbourne and South Morang. An additional computer-based testing site is also operating in Richmond. Two of the new sites are located within the Western Metropolitan Region, at Essendon Fields and Coolaroo. There is existing licence testing capability at Werribee (as a dedicated licence testing centre), Sunshine, Melton and Deer Park (as a dedicated licence testing centre).
As part of the Government’s accelerated plan, a further six sites will open early in the new year, taking the total to 12 new sites across metropolitan Melbourne. Locations for the second cohort of six sites are currently being assessed with a minimum of one additional Licence Test Centre or Computer Test Centre being established within the Western Metropolitan Region. The dedicated Computer Test Centre established in Richmond will also assist in addressing test backlogs in the Western Metropolitan Region, reducing the number of centrally based Melbourne residents seeking test appointments in the West.