Dozens of taxis have blockaded Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge, causing delays to morning commuters, to protest against industry reforms introduced by the Victorian Government.
The cars crawled over the bridge, a main thoroughfare connecting the north-west suburbs to the city, in both directions before stopping at the top.
Victoria Police was monitoring the procession.
Drivers are angry at the Government’s move to legalise the ride-booking service Uber, introduce a $2 levy on all trips made by hire cars and taxis, and abolish the current model of taxi licences.
The Victorian Taxi Association called the move to introduce a levy “unworkable”, and said it was not the best way to compensate the industry in response to Uber.
Protesters have also gathered on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne to rally against the changes.
The scrapping of taxi licenses has also been met with disapproval by the industry. The Government plans to buy them back at $100,000 for the first and $50,000 for the second.
Owners of more than two licences will not receive anything for the others.
The taxi association has argued licence-holders should be paid $250,000 for each licence.
Linda De Melis from Victorian Taxi and Hire Car Families said her family had been in the industry for 50 years and owned six licences.
She told ABC Radio Melbourne the compensation was inadequate.
“We’re not opposing industry change, the Government can dismantle the industry if they choose, but we as licence-holders should not have to pay the price,” she said.
“The Government is seizing our licences for zero in return, and our licences act as assets, people derive income from them, they have loans against them.
“When fishing licences were cancelled, fishermen got a capital component for their licence. They were bought back. That’s merely what we’re asking for.
“We are at breaking point, people are losing their homes. It’s that level of desperation that’s driven us here today.”
What on earth are taxis doing, blocking the Bolte? If they want people to dislike the industry (more), this is an excellent way to do it.
— Chief Bagel Cat (@SiobhanArgent) February 12, 2017
>Taxi drivers are literally protesting the free market
How about instead you evolve your service to compete with Uber#BolteBridge
— BogPill (@PodestasPizza) February 12, 2017
Way to get some sympathy for your cause Melbourne Taxi drivers by blocking public thoroughfares.
— Glenn Hampson (@Glenny3972) February 12, 2017