News National Victoria’s taxi traffic protests could spread across the country

Victoria’s taxi traffic protests could spread across the country

Taxi drivers in Melbourne staged a protest on Monday. Photo: AAP
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Taxi protests may spread across the country with drivers being urged to follow the lead of cabbies who brought traffic in Melbourne to a standstill.

Victorian taxi drivers caused traffic chaos during Monday’s morning peak over the state government’s plan to buy back taxi licenses, legalise Uber and introduce a $2 levy on all trips.

Up to 200 cabs moved along the Bolte Bridge at a walking pace in a protest organised by the Victorian Taxi and Hire Car Families committee.

The group said some 3500 Victorian families would lose out under the government’s plan, which includes paying license holders $100,000 for their first licence and $50,000 for up to three others.

Some owners say they paid $500,000 for their licenses and fear the move will bankrupt them.

“We took out bank loans to buy these licenses,” said Victorian Taxi and Hire Car Families committee member Sandy Spanos.

“We’re not activists. I’m a mum, a wife and a grandmother. This isn’t what I want to be doing with my time, but I have no choice.

“Would you like someone to seize your home and give you 20 per cent of its value?”

Ms Spanos told The New Daily license holders had been “backed into a corner”.

The Victorian government says the plan is progressive, fair and will provide certainty to the industry.

Protests could spread

The protest in Melbourne could spur drivers in other states to take similar measures as governments across the country grapple with the rise of ride-sharing.

In New South Wales, Greg Polimos, a 30-year veteran of the industry, told The New Daily drivers in his state should consider action similar to the protests in Melbourne.

“We’d like to [protest]. I’m the No.1 advocate,” said Mr Polimos, a committee member of the NSW Taxi License Owners Association.

“I’ve been in the industry 31 years, I speak for myself. I own nine licenses in my own family. I’m down to the tune of $3 million, I have no superannuation and nothing to show for my 30 years’ worth of work.

“I would love to see it. In Sydney, let’s shut down the Harbour Bridge.”

Taxi license owners say the government is not giving them a fair go. Photo: AAP

Mr Polimos said “segregation” in the three-tier system of mum and dad owners, government and corporates meant it had been difficult to coordinate a response.

He said he wanted to see license holders come together to send a message to the government.

“We’re small businesses and we’re calling on government and politicians to listen to our voice,” Mr Polimos said.

“I would love to see it. In Sydney, let’s shut down the Harbour Bridge.”
Taxi driver Greg Polimos

The NSW and Queensland government offered drivers compensation grants for lost business after legalising ride-sharing apps.

But unlike Victoria, neither state government is embarking on a forced buy back.

Brisbane taxi owner and a former multi-operator John Rahilly said that meant Queensland drivers were “fighting this war” on different ground.

But Mr Rahilly said he wouldn’t rule out similar protests in Queensland.

“We’re waiting to see what requirements the government is going to put on to ride-sharing,” he told The New Daily.

“Until that happens, we’ll wait and see. I’m not saying what happened in Melbourne won’t happen in Queensland. But we are fighting this war on a different level because we’re not losing our licenses.”

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