Speculating About Taxi Industry Reform Will Not Result in Better Outcomes for Customers

14 December 2015 | NSW Taxi Council

Over the last two weeks there has been quite a lot of discussion on the future of taxis and Uber.  The most recent contribution from the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance exemplifies some of the ill-thought out nature of this speculation. 

The Premier has rightly come out and advised the public that people are “jumping the gun” and that his Government will consider the Point to Point Review Report properly and not be forced into premature decision making.  

This is wise counsel. 

What we have also seen over this recent time is that Uber, yet again, is saying that it doesn’t want to meet any costs associated with complying with the law.  

There is a recurring theme here that is becoming as clear as it is disingenuous: 

  • Uber should comply with taxi or hire cars rules – ‘no, we are different’ 
  • Uber should pay GST like taxis and hire cars – ‘no, we are different’ 
  • Uber should pay insurance like taxis and hire cars – ‘no we are different’ 
  • Uber should pay a licence fee to provide passenger services – ‘no, we are different’ 
  • Uber should have security cameras in its cars – ‘no, we are different’ 

Every step of the way Uber is saying ‘No, we don’t want to comply with your laws, we want our own laws; preferably ones that suit our business model’.

The NSW Taxi Industry has been saying that what we want is a level playing field, to be able to compete fairly, and where the law is transgressed, the perpetrators are held to account.  These are not unreasonable requests.  They are manifestly fair. 

The Government is looking how taxi services will operate into the future.  This is an appropriate course of action to take in the current environment.   If there are negative impacts on taxi owners, the Government has advised it will consider compensation for people who have invested in a taxi licence in good faith. 

Uber has, consistent with form, opposed this notion. 

This is easy for a multinational company that engages in revenue shifting to say, but it is cold comfort for many thousands of working families who rely on the income from the taxi business to provide for their livelihood or help fund a modest retirement. 

When the dairy industry was deregulated, significant compensation was paid; when the forestry industry was changed, compensation was paid; fishing licences have been bought out by governments, and the list goes on.  

Why does Uber and the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance think taxi owners and drivers should be treated differently and thrown on the scrap heap?  

The NSW Taxi Industry is happy to consider reasonable and well thought out reform.  Our first response isn’t ‘No’! 

It’s about time that Uber and others who haven’t even offered the basic courtesy to engage with us before making public comment about their concerns start engaging in a more reasonable manner.  For Uber, complying with the law would be a good start.