This past weekend after letting it slide for awhile now I examined a batch of screenshots sent to me by Sam Redfern regarding the taxi drivers and their supporters infesting the Facebook page of Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan. Included in this was a demand to know what my relationship is with the Minister.
Now because of a bunch of sick stalkers I am not in a position to reveal that much. But there are two key differences between myself and Sam – three if you include the fact that I reside in Victoria and Sam doesn’t.
The first is simple. Sam isn’t a member of the ALP. I am, and have been since December 2016. The second is that I have met the Minister in real life – twice. The first was at the ALP’s policy consultation back in March. I am heavily involved in the party side of that as distinct from parliamentary and I am hoping that some of my ideas will form part of the ALP’s transport policy platform come November 2018 when Victoria goes back to the polls. The second was a related meeting, where the Minister admitted that she had read my previous blog entry about transport not being perfect and insinuated a thumbs up for it.
That’s all. Nothing more. It’s laughable that the drivers and their fellow apologists would make such desperate claims. As Sam has said and I agree, they are behaving like the guilty people they are and have been exposed. They have no interest in the truth. And when poor old Christine McKewen got involved she got the same. Sure we have the same interests; on Facebook! That’s why we are friends for goodness sakes!
But while we’re on the subject of taxi drivers let’s get one thing clear once and for all. That lot have been behaving like idiots for years. I still vividly remember that stupid sit down protest blocking the intersection of Flinders Street and Swanston Street. It was childish and each and every driver involved should have been sacked for it. There was the more recent go slow over the Bolte Bridge which, whilst it wasn’t as bad, was still just as childish. It’s as though they think they are owed something that they have to earn, and this goes to what Sam was talking about with drivers with hygiene issues, not keeping their taxis clean and tidy, being rude to passengers, and taking the long way around to destinations – and goodness knows what else! Heck, one time here in Ballarat I was forced to get a taxi (as a general rule I won’t unless I have no choice) and the driver tried to give me his personal mobile phone number for extra business. I should have reported that, but compared to the other stuff it’s not really that bad. Ordinary though, seeing as he is taking the very attitude that I don’t like and I have seen a lot. A lack of really caring about their job. It’s a hard job – and that’s something I do disagree with Sam on to a point. The hard working. The problem is they are going about it the wrong way.
I also disagree with Sam about the accountancy identity (for want of a better term) of the taxi license plates. The drivers have called them assets. Sam has stated they are not. I am with the drivers on this one, but there is a point that needs to be made. The license plates are assets – in the same way superannuation is an asset. It’s an investment. And there are two issues that come out of that. The first is the taking of the license plates back, which is the same as an investment collapsing. Look at the number of people who lost heaps over Pyramid as an example. It happens and the drivers have to suck it up and take what they can get in compensation. This is where the Legislative Council is getting it wrong and blocking the legislation, although it’s more complicated than that and I’ll get to that shortly. I do agree with the compensation though, and there I also disagree with Sam who wants to see nothing returned. What I want to know though is what the heck are the banks doing allowing loans against the licenses?? Would they allow it against super? Maybe, and I think that’s a mistake and further proof that we need a banking Royal Commission! It shouldn’t be allowed – at all! Investments are unstable, and let’s face it – because of the bad behaviour of the drivers who do the things I have nominated, the value of the license plates has dipped! Who’s fault is that? The drivers – and those who support them!
But why does this keep happening without a penalty? This is where Sam’s assertion of an internal mafia makes sense. What’s the alternative explanation for it? Why are these drivers still driving? That’s the question that has no alternative answer and it’s why – at least until someone answers that query – that I agree with Sam. Not so much the exact identity of the union involved, not because I don’t believe Sam but because there is no hard proof that it’s that particular group that’s involved. It may well be that again, there is no alternative explanation.
Now let’s get to the other part of the legislation that is complicating matters, and that means talking about Uber. First, the question of legality – and as it stands at the moment I also agree with Sam, although I qualify that in the following manner. The fact that drivers who work for Uber are making a living out of driving passengers around is a point of technicality actually. On the one hand, they aren’t commercial vehicles and are therefore outside the current laws. But on the other hand, it also means that a mate can’t ask a mate for money for petrol in order to get him or her from A to B, and that’s not correct at all. What is happening here in reality is that Uber is taking advantage of that loophole and exploiting it. You can do almost anything in a private vehicle, and it includes paying the driver for petrol. That’s perfectly legal. See the problem? It’s funny because one apologist points to a transcript where the word “technical” is used in a question to I presume an Uber representative. Sam has said the apologist made that piece up. I don’t know if he did or didn’t and he’s not helping himself by not linking said transcript. But giving him the benefit of the doubt, it actually supports what I just said when you read it properly!
Now I assume that’s part of the reason for the Rideshare legislation. But on the other hand we have Uber doing things like inflating prices in times of emergency demand (Sam’s wrong there – it wasn’t fake news at all) and blatantly stating that they won’t pay tax here. I’m assuming that Uber is claiming that their drivers are contractors and work for themselves and they make all the money from the passengers. That’s a technical point and it may be another loophole that escapes even the July 1 changes to federal business tax legislation. But that one I don’t know. Sam is convinced that they won’t. The jury is still out for me. But it doesn’t help when our own Rideshare legislation is being blocked by a gung ho gang in the Legislative Council who think they know better. It’s clear that they don’t and they are listening to whining drivers and their families and their self inflicted stress. In that area Sam and I definitely agree. Pyramid was a risk and it backfired. License plates were just as much of a risk because you were reliant on other drivers doing the right thing, and they have let you down – and badly.
So a message to the taxi drivers. Find out who is pulling your industry down, name and shame them and drive them out. And start competing with Uber as well by working hard on everything including the most important factor that doesn’t have a specific value – customer service. There, you are being thrashed, and not by Uber but by your other competition. Increased public transport in the hours of Friday night/Saturday morning and Saturday night/Sunday morning. That used to be your domain, but not anymore. And people are using that because they have had enough of you. You want a fair go? Change your attitude, or get out of driving taxis and do something else with your lives.