February 2017 will be a month to remember.

6 Feb.  Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, appearing on the ABC’s Q&A, stated, without blushing, that he, like most of us, cherishes the Australian spirit of a fair go.

Recently 3AW shock jock Neil Mitchell said on air thatDaniel Andrews had turned into “something of a political thug and bully”. He should have prefaced it with ‘two-faced and manipulative’.

13 Feb.  Up to 200 taxis blocked Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge before joining a demonstration in front of Parliament House demanding full compensation for their taxi licences. The protest was organised by the VTHCF and Taxi Power, who promised to continue with blockades and demos until the Government offers a fair buy-back deal.

17 Feb.  Uber loses its appeal in the Federal Court against the ATO’s ruling that rideshare drivers are required to have an ABN and pay GST under the same rules that apply to taxi and hire car drivers. Uber is spitting chips. The ATO’s ruling was announced on 20 May 2015. It also ruled that-ride share drivers were required to obtain an ABN by 1 August 2015, consequently, all UberX drivers were, by law, required to pay GST on their Uber income from 20 May 2015. Fat chance that the ATO will chase the millions of dollars it’s owed. Uber increased its UberX fares by 10% on 1 August 2015 to cover the GST.

21 Feb.  VTHF and Taxi Power, following further futile discussions with the Government, announced a second blockade to take place on Monday, 27 February at 7.30am followed by a rally at Parliament House from 9am. The target is the Tullamarine Freeway starting at Oakland Junction just past the Airport.

The Australian Financial Review revealed that MTData is up for sale. The company hopes to attract offers of between $50 million and $100 million from some dopy private equity firm, which doesn’t understand the term ‘obsolete’.

22 Feb.  Victorian Government introduced the first part of its shambolic Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Bill 2017 into parliament. It covers the proposed $2 levy, vehicle licensing and regulation of booking services.

The levy is classified as a state tax and will be collected from booking services by the Commissioner of State Revenue on a quarterly basis. None-payment is a criminal offense. Whether the levy will be passed on to passengers is up to the booking service.

In the event that a P2P vehicle or vehicles do not affiliate with a booking service, it is the operator of the vehicle(s) who is liable for paying the levy. Obviously the geniuses that thought this up are living in la la land.

Vehicle licencing will be the same for all P2P vehicles. The wording of the Bill suggests that all Victorian P2P vehicles will be permitted to pick up rank and hail. Whether a meter is required is not mentioned.

23 Feb.  Following its second reading in parliament it was announced that the Bill will be voted on in 2 weeks time.

24 Feb.  Cabcharge announced it had bought Queensland’s iconic Yellow Cab Company for $20 million. The acquisition brings to 8,500 the number of cabs operating under its 13CABS brand. There are speculations that Swan Taxis in Perth, owned by its former private bus partner, ComfortDelgro, is next in line.

Uber has emailed its riders and drivers in Victoria, asking them to sign a petition urging the State Government not to introduce the $2 levy on taxi, Uber and hire car rides.

27 Feb.  The ‘blockade’ that wasn’t a blockade. Today’s ‘go-slow’ protest by what some media claimed was around 300 taxis was a bit of a fizzer. Rather than driving in block formation they were spread widely along the route allowing the general traffic to overtake them especially using the emergency lane. It did disrupt traffic and it did get the desired media coverage but it was not a blockade. A blockade is when you stop the traffic. Maybe next time.

There were reports many Uber drivers were also not working today.

One Uber driver told 3AW they were not working in support of the cab drivers and because they are paid less than colleagues in Sydney.

Finally, an announcement from the editor of OZ Cabbie Magazine.

After 18 years of publishing OZ Cabbie and tilting at windmills I have decide it’s time to hang up my quill. While I have no doubt that there is still a need for an independent voice representing the grassroots, the rank and file, of what is now known as P2P passenger transport drivers, I’m burned out and it’s time to shut up or hand over to someone else. Like MTData OZ Cabbie is for sale. Surely there is someone out there mad enough to take it on and make an offer in which case this is not farewell but rivederti.

Peer Lindholdt

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OZ Cabbie February 2017

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