Never before has your editor experienced a month like June 2016. As an addict of politics, the Federal Election kept interfering with my focus on the ginormously important events that are taking place in the P2P transport sphere around the country so let's get the election out of the way before I start on the more serious issues like the battles between taxis, hire cars, ridesharing and State governments.
Like most Australians on the moderate side of politics I was quite elated when Malcolm snatched the Prime Ministership from the Mad Monk. Unfortunately the elation didn’t last as I soon realised that the new ‘emperor’ was as naked as his predecessor but more opaque.
In one of his first interviews as Prime Minister, Malcolm was asked how he could expect to relate to everyday Australians given his net worth, conservatively estimated to be about $200 million.
He responded with an anecdote from his time as a partner at investment banking firm Goldman Sachs in New York, the very bank behind Uber Technologies’ capital raising of $US11 billion.
“The chief executive of the firm gave a sort of pep talk to the partners and he said, you know, ‘We’re doing well. We’re making lots of money ‘cause we work hard and we deserve it.’ And I said to him afterwards, just quietly, I said, ‘You know, there are taxi drivers in this city that work much longer hours than anyone does here and they don’t earn very much at all,“ he said.
Now there's a bloke who is really in touch with Struggle Street, who can emphasise with the hard work and low pay of a city’s taxi drivers as he buys his 23 year old daughter, a teacher, a $2.7 million penthouse, $40,000 Cartier watches for his wife, hides his true wealth in a blind trust in tax heaven, the Cayman Islands, and lauds a global tax dodging corporate terrorist like Uber Technologies as the best thing since sliced bread. “Jobs and growth” indeed, but, of what kind.
Talking about Goldman Sachs, it has been quietly buying up a stake in Cabcharge and on 10 March became a substantial shareholder with 5.42% of the company, an investment worth a mere $A21 million. Peanuts really, but interesting nonetheless.
We are told, the election will be won and lost at the whim of swinging voters in marginal seats in NSW and Queensland. I don’t know anything about the seats of Oxley and Rankin in Queensland except that Labor could well lose them to the Katter’s Australia Party, which has two former cabbies, Stephen Lacaze and Shane Holley as candidates. As is well known, at least in Queensland, KAP is the only political party that has stood up for the taxi industry against Uber. Worth your vote mate!
And not to forget my old mate Kingsley Liu, also a former cabbie, now a lawyer, standing for the Greens in the seat of Lindsay in Sydney's west.
Besides now being part owned by Uber’s lead financier, Cabcharge has made the news in this issue of OZ Cabbie. Not only are there rumours, backed by photos we don’t have, floating around, that it has launched a ride-share service in Maidland/Newcastle NSW, it has also been bullying and intimidating ingogo drivers who are affiliated with its Sydney networks. CCN abuses its power
And still on NSW where Parliament has passed the Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Bill 2016. Only problem is, it can’t become law yet (i.e. signed by the Governor) because there are no regulations to go with it. Struth!
The only two states left not to have legalised ridesharing are Victoria and Queensland, both run by Labor governments. We delve into why they are taking so long to make a decision, given that Uber has given them both ‘the finger’ since it first launched UberX in 2014. We are told a task force review is due for release in Queensland next month and that Victorian Transport Minister has promised the Australian Sex Party’s leader Fiona Patten to table a ‘framework’ in August when parliament returns from its winter break. Read more here
Should ridesharing cars have security cameras like taxi must? Are they as safe as Uber and politicians say? I say ‘yes’ to the first question and ‘no’ to the second. Click here to read my rationale.
And finally we have published a letter from former taxi owner-driver and long-time taxi activist in Brisbane, John Rahilli addressed to Prime Minister Turnbull. Pretty spot on in my view! Read more
Oh yes, just one last bit of news. From 19 July UberX, goCar and any other ride-share service that may care to, will be permitted to pick up passengers at Sydney Airport. That wasn’t meant to happen but I guess the Sydney Airport Corporation has watched with interest the failures of Sydney taxi drivers to organise a decent protest rally or blockade and reckon it has nothing to fear in that regard. We’ll see. A rally by taxi people held last week over three days, again in front of Parliament House, came and went without anyone taking notice. Not even Channel 10.
So much to talk about, so little time.