Taxi Talk June 2016


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Taxi Talk magazine June 2016 edition

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TAXI TALK JUNE 2016 ISSUE NO 576 VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY Australia’s premier independent taxi industry magazine VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY HEALESVILLE SANCTUARY WINE & WILDLIFE WEEKEND Queen’s birthday long weekend | 11-13 June 2016 TAXI MAGAZINE ON THE RANKS SINCE 1966 PROUDLY PUBLISHED AND PRINTED IN MELBOURNE Print Post Approved number 100004912 The 2016 Wine and Wildlife Weekend is a perfect opportunity to visit Healesville Sanctuary for winter warmers with a difference. Fall in love with the local wildlife and taste local Yarra Valley producers’ fine food, wine and beer. celebr YEARS THE VOICE OF THE VICTORIAN TAXI INDUSTRY a tin g


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Contents TAKING STOCK TAXI Toni F. Peters VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY MAGAZINE ON THE RANKS SINCE 1966 6 CABCHARGE DATA LEAK 10 25 32 MAGAZINE EDITOR FOUNDER Stanley F. White PUBLISHER Trade Promotions Pty Ltd Hans Altoff looks at what impact the changes from the Taxi Industry Inquiry has had. Open database cabcharge., containing senstive information, was hacked. ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Mrs Toni Peters Trade Promotions Pty Ltd PO Box 2345, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 Phone: ....................................... 0400 137 866 Email: ............................. Website: .......................... TRANSIT APPS WORLD 16 LICENCE STATISTICS DISPLAY ADS A look at the movement within some apps around the world. Monthly Victorian taxi and hire car licence comparison. All copy, editorial and artwork must be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to publication date. Advertisement sizes and costs can be downloaded at NEWACCESS PROGRAM 28 CLASSIFIED ADS $35 for 40 words, $70 for 80 words, etc. Email or Mail your classified advertisement by the 15th of the month prior to publication date, together with your payment. GOVERNMENT UPDATE SUBSCRIPTION DETAILS 1 year = $40 This could revolutionise the way we get help for depression and anxiety. Views expressed in any article in Taxi Talk magazine are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily those of the publisher. The publisher cannot accept any responsibility for any opinions, information, errors or omissions in this publication. To the extent permitted by law, the publisher will not be liable for any damages including special, exemplary, punitive or consequential damages (including but not limited to economic loss or loss of profit or revenue or loss of opportunity) or indirect loss or damage of any kind arising from the contract, tort or otherwise, even if advised of the possibility of such loss of profits or damage. Advertisements must comply with the relevant provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Responsibility for compliance with the Act rests with the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisement. Taxi Talk magazine has agreed to advertise taxi clubs because those clubs have stated that they and their products comply with all applicable laws and regulations relating to insurance for taxi operators. Update from the Taxi Services Commission on issues effecting the industry. Taxi Talk magazine has not independently verified these taxi clubs’ compliance, and give no warranty and make no representation as to whether the taxi clubs are compliant. Operators should satisfy themselves as to a taxi club’s compliance with laws and regulations through their own enquiries. These advertisements do not constitute recommendations by Taxi Talk magazine that operators purchase insurance products from taxi clubs. Taxi Talk magazine does not accept any liability or responsibility for any loss or damage suffered or incurred by any operator because a taxi club or its product or service is non-compliant. Taxi Talk magazine is wholly owned by Trade Promotions Pty Ltd. COPYRIGHT © Trade Promotions Pty Ltd 2015. All rights reserved. The “Taxi Talk – Voice of the taxi industry” heading and logos are trademarks of Stanley F. White. Copyright of articles and photographs of Taxi Talk magazine remain with the individual contributors and may not be reproduced without permission. PAYMENT OPTIONS • • Via PAYPAL to Direct Deposit to Trade Promotions Pty Ltd BSB 033065 A/c 312786 Mail Cheque to Trade Promotions Pty Ltd PO Box 2345, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 • proudly supporting these organisations since inception..... June 2016 |3


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editor’s desk Many people currently think that because of the recent Nathan Brenner court case appeal being upheld, that Uber is now legal in Victoria. Not so it’s just - not illegal. Uber solicitors found a loophole in part of the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983 that allowed them to argue that Brenner had stayed within the law of the Act. It leaves you to wonder how the Taxi Services Commission’s legal team weren’t aware of this. This technicality within the Act has allowed a precedent to be set for ride-sharing businesses in Victoria. For many years Prof Alan Fels said that he believed that the Victorian taxi industry would be much better off if it was unregulated. Then he headed up the 2011 Taxi Industry Inquiry and during that time made comments and recommendations to loosen the industry’s regulation. Neither deregulation or unregulation happened. But what has happened now, is that Prof Fels has recently been appointed to a new consultative board - the Uber’s global advisory board. VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY from THE freedom to compete by removing unnecessary regulation. I have also observed that the taxi industry has lifted its performance considerably since Uber arrived,” he said. He is once again riding at the helm of a board that provides services to the travelling public. Will he endeavour to unregulate or deregulate our industry this time? Time will tell. What was that strike orchestrated by the Victorian Taxi and Hire Car Families, last month, supposed to achieve? Really! Have a heap of taxis go on strike, thereby creating a shortage of available taxis. What does the travelling public do? It books an Uber car to take them home. Don’t really think that is a good way to get the taxi drivers and operators’ message across to the government. Perhaps you would be better putting your concerns in writing to the Transport Minister and the Essential Services Commission! And, at the same time, send a copy to Taxi Talk and we shall publish it too. It has been said that compared to regular taxis, ridesharing technology mitigates the risk of bad drivers and bad passengers significantly. The ridesharing apps track who has given who a ride and when. But what if something goes wrong inside the vehicle? Wouldn’t passengers prefer to be in a taxi with CCTV than a ride- TAXI MAGAZINE ON THE RANKS SINCE 1966 PROUDLY PUBLISHED AND PRINTED IN MELBOURNE He has been quoted in The Age as saying, “Uber is the way of the future for transport of individuals and groups and services, in that it provides a better service than taxis, and it’s usually cheaper. It’s a highly innovative business”. “In Victoria, Uber has proven to be a huge appeal to customers. I believe the taxi industry should have far more 4 | June 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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sharing vehicle without any recording device? The CCTV captures every moment of the trip on video and the perpetrator is dealt with by Police accordingly. As was Abdul Oumer, Silver Top Taxis owner/driver recently. His taxi driver’s certificate and operator accreditation has been revoked until 2018, for sexually assaulting an 18 year old female passenger earlier this year. Last month, all around Australia, many Uber drivers’ services were terminated by Uber. The drivers ratings were extremely poor. They were warned to lift their game, which they did, but not for long. Therefore, they no longer work for Uber. Similarly, passengers who get a low rating for a length of time will be blocked from booking an Uber car to transport them. This is how the rating system works fairly and justly - for both driver and passengers. Until now, it has only been ridesharing drivers who are given ratings and if a driver is giving off a weird or aggressive vibe, they will be flagged within the program and if the bad ratings continue, will be blocked from using the app. The new wave of apps designed specifically for taxis, will allow both the taxi driver and taxi passengers to give ratings. This will give the taxis a bit more of an even edge versus the ridesharing apps. iHail is about to be launched into the Australian taxi market and it claims that it can connect the customer with every taxi in their area. But what they omit to tell the travelling public is that the taxi has to belong to a certain Network Service Provider (NSP) to be part of this app and in Melbourne the two NSPs for ihail are 13CABS and Silver Top Taxis. So, if you don’t belong to either of these NSPs you won’t be getting any work from iHail. All fares charged through iHail are subject to a payments processing fee. In Victoria, NSW and WA the processing fee is 5%. In all other states and territories throughout Australia the processing fee is 10% plus gst. And it has been rumoured that iHail will charge the operator 20 cents for every iHail booking. There is another new app, SLYYK, being launched locally in Melbourne very soon. The creators of SLYYK truly want to improve the industry and provide the reliable service that passengers deserve COMPETITION #2 to receive. They claim that their system will ensure fair job allocation and you don’t have to belong to a specific NSP - just download the app and join in the challenge of getting fares via your phone app. SLYYK also has a processing fee, which is 5%. But unlike iHail, it is only going to keep 3% of this. The remaining 2% will go back to the driver. Also, they won’t be charging a booking fee for jobs booked via the app. Ingogo is stirring up a storm throughout Australia. It has recently revamped their app program so that it offers fixed fares to the passenger. It instantly eliminates the need to keep a close watch on the meter and takes us one step closer to a cashless transit industry. An exact calculation of the fare is provided to the customer when entering the trip details into the app. When the customer accepts the fare, the taxi will be booked and a driver sent to pick them up. What interesting times we have in front of us for the remainder of 2016. Toni Peters Editor TT TAXI TALK MAY 2016 50TH ANNIVERSARY COMPETITION WINNERS COMPETITION #1 ANSWERS Von Trapp Family, Austria, songs - too numerous to name here WINNERS M Atif - Point Cook and R Cain - Port Melbourne COMPETITION #3 ANSWER - The man is Alex with his grandson also named Alex and they both work at Alex Taxis and Broker, Errol Street, Nth Melbourne. WINNERS G Taplin - Berwick, S Anders, Werribee, R Cain - Port Melbourne, C Whitmore - Box Hill, G Karatas - Camberwell ANSWER 1966 the first edition of Melway was printed - same year Taxi Talk - voice of the taxi industry started. WINNERS R Cain - Port Melbourne, M Singh - Tarneit, M Yung - Glen Waverley, S Mahendran Reservoir, P Grey - Richmond Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry YEARS June 2016 |5


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Taking stock Was the 2011 Victorian Taxi Industry Inquiry worthwhile, or a waste of time and money? The Taxi Inquiry, with Professor The Taxi Inquiry was Fels at the helm, was supposed to launched in May 2011 come up with recommendations to improve the Taxi Industry. and the Taxi Industry It was intended to improve the serhas gone through vice to the public. many changes and Did the service to the public improve, the price of taxi fares beupheavals that have come cheaper or did fare refusal not stopped to this stop? The answer is NO. day. Let’s examine So, what happened after the Govthe impact that these ernment implemented the recommendations of Professor Fels? changes had and more importantly what The implementation of the “Knowledge”, the issue of improvements were 600 more Taxi Licences achieved. and the mandatory from taxi drivers that were accredited in the previous 5 years unless they passed the ‘Knowledge”. Was there any improvement in Service to the Public? The Taxi Services Commission (TSC) will claim that the availability of taxis has improved through their action of issuing more licences. What they do not want to acknowledge, is the fact that many of those licences have no drivers and cannot provide the service to the public. They also ignore the fact that all night Public Transport has eased the demand for taxis after midnight on weekends. So, one can safely say that the Inquiry was a waste of time and money, as far as the public is concerned. And Professor Fels cracked some eggs in the industry, to make an omelette for his own consumption. In the light of recent developments with respect to Uber it would be remiss of me not to comment. The media went into frenzy and reported that Uber was now legal in Victoria, when Nathan Brenner won his appeal. 55/45% split, sent several taxi businesses bankrupt. The impact of the Knowledge had an immediate and delayed effect. The immediate effect was that virtually no new drivers have come through the system because the “Knowledge” was not designed as a competency test but rather as a test to fail the candidates. The delayed effect took a bit longer to materialize since it worked in a retrospective manner and took the accreditation and livelihood away 6 | June 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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They failed to report that Brenner got off on a legal technicality, a loophole found in our Victorian Law, that was unearthed by Uber’s army of lawyers. This shows clearly what a formidable opponent Uber represents. The legality of Uber has been challenged by governments all over the world and some governments, like Germany and France, have had the fortitude to ban Uber’s illegal activities. Uber is more than a technology company it is a company that is funded by the richest people in the world, in order to dominate the world and exploit its citizens. It is a company that wants to write its own laws or use any means to get laws changed to suit it. It changed the original name from Ubercab to Uber in order to pretend that it is not doing the same work as a taxi and pretends to be a ride-share company, when it is clearly not. Uber recruits the best and most helpful people to further their interest. The latest being Professor Fels, who works on an advisory committee and is remunerated for his efforts, by receiving shares in the company. In a recent interview by Neil Mitchell on 3AW, Professor Fels answered a question in typical Uber style. He said that there was never a conflict, when he did his report on the Inquiry for the government, because Uber was not here. Yes, it is true Uber was not in Melbourne at the time. But they launched in Sydney in November 2012 and were well established in America when the Professor went on a State-funded fact finding mission to America. So is it coincidence or sheer luck that Uber found a ready made workforce of drivers who lost their taxi accreditation? Hans Altoff Taxi Owner / Operator TT Recent Court case appeal Uber vs TSC Nathan Brenner was found guilty in December 2015 of being an owner of a commercial passenger vehicle and operating that vehicle for hire and reward without a licence under the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983. Last month Brenner appealed, citing a rather outdated section of the act dating back to 1927, which Brenner’s counsel described as “delicious”. Section 159 outlines that there is a defence if the accused can prove that the passengers in the vehicle were not carried for reward at “separate or distinct fares”. In Brenner’s case, there were two passengers in the car, and they were charged a single fare. Judge Geoffrey Chettle, therefore, found Brenner had a defence, and set aside the original orders, and ordered the Victorian Taxi Commission to pay Brenner’s fees. The CEO of the Taxi Services Commission Aaron de Rozario said that Brenner only won due to “an obscure technical argument,” and the commission was considering whether to appeal. TT DO YOU HAVE... • something to sell? • a service to offer? • a new product? Advertise in TAXI TALK Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry Voice of the Victorian Taxi Industry YEARS June 2016 |7


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Fixed taxi fares are here Gone with the meter: ingogo introduces fixed fares and revolutionises taxi booking experience ingogo is offering consumers more fairness and certainty when booking a cab… and getting taxi drivers back in the game. Australian taxi payments innovator, ingogo, announced last month that it’s doing away with traditional metered fares and has shifted its much lauded bookings and payment platform to offer fixed fare bookings. One of the most common complaints travellers have using taxis is the uncertainty in price before getting into the vehicle. ingogo’s ingenious approach offering fixed fares – the only taxi booking service and app in Australia to do this – instantly eliminates the need to keep a close watch on the meter. An exact determination of what the fare will be is provided when a customer enters the trip details into the app. Once the customer accepts the fare, the taxi will be booked and a driver sent to collect the customer. Hamish Petrie, ingogo CEO, said: “Our redesigned application is the next stage in providing customers with the superior experience that they have come to expect. ingogo already offers the most robust suite of services through our app. This is another feather in that cap. “Our intention is to keep taxi drivers competitive, both in terms of service and pricing transparency. That way, everybody wins,” Petrie added. The algorithm that determines the fixed fare takes into account the distance and expected time using the most efficient route to the destination, traffic conditions, as well as any tolls or fees that might accrue through the trip. There is no surge pricing and no hidden surprises – the price approximates what you would normally expect to pay. This makes it a win-win for consumers; what they see is what they get. Jeff Lim, ingogo Chief Marketing Officer, said: “Customers are at times uncomfortable with taxis, some hire cars and ride-share vehicles for a number of reasons. They’re not sure of the final price before they get in, or are concerned that a driver may take a less-than-optimal route to get the passenger to their destination or add extras at the end of a trip.” “Through the new ingogo app, customers will have the certainty that they crave around pricing. Plus passengers can jump straight out of the cab as payment and receipts are fully automated ”. TT 8 | June 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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ALEX TAXIS & BROKER P/L TAXI VHA MT $BUY > Taxi leases available MT LEASE VHA $$$ SELL ATB SELL TAXI VHA 119 Errol St Nth Melb Call Jimmy 0412 717 616 TAXI COVER VANs - SEDANs > > > > > > > > > ALEX TAXIS & BROKER P/L FOR ALL YOUR TAXI COVER Thinking of selling or leasing $BUY MT 119 Errol St Nth Melb Call Chantel 9348 9507 Call Jimmy today on your taxi 0412 717 616 licence? Fastest recovery for loss of income Prompt repairs carried out well equipped workshop in tottenham Alex tAxis mobile eftpos Quick repairs to put you back on the road ASAP Genuine parts used Get rewarded for no claims and not at fault claims SMALLER > /BRIGHTER FASTER Third party property public liability > cover 30 Million 24hr Help Hotline 0425 837 766 TAXI RESPRAYS FROM $1090 (incGST) Mob axi leases available 24 hour VHA $$$ METRO CLUB HELP HOTLINE MT SELL ile e ftp os Alex Taxis & Broker 119 Errol Street North Melbourne TAXI & VHA 19 Errol0425 St Nth 0412 717 616 837 Melb 766 Call Jimmy FOR ALL YOUR TAXI COVER VANs - SEDANs YEARS R Fastest recovery for loss of income R Prompt repairs carried out R Genuine parts used R Well equipped workshop in Tottenham R Taxi yellow resprays from $1090 (inc gst) astest recovery for loss of income R Get rewarded for no & not-at-fault claims rompt repairs carried out 3rd party property/public liability cover $30M ellR equipped in tottenham Ale x workshop tAxis mobile COVER ATB FOR ALL YOUR TAXI COVER Call Chantel 9348 9507 eftpos 119 Errol Street, North Melbourne


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Cabcharge data leak Encouraging companies to be honest about data breaches isn’t enough, it seems. Some companies need more ... persuasion. Cabcharge has a problem. It’s not just [last month’s] discovery of a significant data breach, although it relates to that. But let’s start with the data breach. Risk Based Security (RBS) is an information security intelligence, analysis, and vulnerability assessment firm headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. Early May RBS blogged about their discovery, two weeks earlier, of an open database at Cabcharge, an Australian company that operates what is effectively a monopoly for processing non-cash payments for taxis, plus other transport and transport-related services. “The open database contains sensitive information of both customers and drivers, including customer credit card details along with only the last 4 digits of the credit card number. The database also contains Driver’s full name, ABN (Australian Business Number), Taxi ID, terminal IDs as well as trip logs, bookings information, and other critical usage details exposing individual trip movements,” RBS wrote. “The stored transactions are from the Cabcharge Taxi Management System (CTMS), and include copies of partial credit card numbers, drop off location, pick up location, as well as client and driver identifier information including names. There are also copies of e-TAG serials and codes used on the motorway for electronic payments, which provides yet even more detail for tracking trip activity.” This is serious stuff. Yet Cabcharge’s only on-record comment, a statement by chief executive officer Andrew Skelton, downplays the risk. “On 5 May, we were made aware of a breach of information on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Our security team investigated the issue and resecured the data on the same day,” the statement began. “Most of the information was old and contained inactive Cabcharge Fastcard numbers and expiry dates.” Notice that Cabcharge is already trying to spin this as nothing to worry about, and not even their fault. The data was old and inactive. The data was at AWS, not Cabcharge. But saying that the database “contained inactive Cabcharge Fastcard numbers” doesn’t rule out the possibility that it contained other things as well. And indeed, the very next paragraph of the statement admits to that. Or some of it. “However, up to 3,443 active Cabcharge Fastcard accounts were affected. Our investigation shows there has been no misuse of these accounts. “As a precaution, we are cancelling affected Fastcards and reissuing 10 | June 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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new cards with additional security features,” Skelton said, without specifying what those features might be, or whether Fastcardholders unaffected by this breach might also benefit from these new features. The statement goes on to say that while the last four digits of a “limited number” of customer credit cards were opened, this won’t be a problem -- which is doubtless true -- before ending with the ritual statement. “The privacy and security of our customer and driver data remains a key priority. We are in the process of contacting affected Fastcard customers.” Now all that covers the financial information in the open database. What of the trip logs and suchlike? I put that question directly to Cabcharge’s PR firm, which had taken over communication: “Are you able to confirm or deny the exposure of trip data, or provide more specific detail about what was exposed?” The reply? “This is the statement that we’re providing.” How reassuring. Yet again, we have an organisation that seems to think that financial information is what needs to be protected. Yet credit card number and Fastcard numbers can be reissued easily. What can’t be changed as easily are people’s movements, and revealing even old trip details can be a problem. Consider the staff of a family planning clinic. A regular taxi ride could reveal their home addresses, making them vulnerable to violent antiabortion activists. As the case of Peter James Knight shows, such people can be prepared to kill in the pursuit of their political aims. Or consider David Campbell, former minister for transport in New South Wales. A married man, Campbell was forced to resign after he was found using his ministerial car to visit a gay sex club. Sure, he didn’t use a taxi for those visits, but his career would have been just as dead if he had. Two years ago, in the case of dating site operator Cupid Media -- not to be confused with OkCupid -- Australia’s privacy commissioner Tim Pilgrim made it very clear that “data other than credit and other financial information may be ‘sensitive information’ under the definition of that term in the Privacy Act”. Cabcharge, it would seem, is still living in the past. So is food delivery operator Menulog. [In April 2016], in response to a direct question about the integrity of their customer database, they provided a hand-wavey answer about “upgrading that part of the system”. “Rest assured it will still register any orders you place or loyalty accrued in this period,” Menulog wrote, as if this were the biggest concern from any potential data breach. This lack of awareness is appalling, especially given that only the month before, in March 2016, Menulog had exposed more than a million customers’ details without notifying them. They just sent a generic email reminding customers to use strong passwords. Both Cabcharge and Menulog are significant Australian companies who claim to be committing to protecting customer privacy. But both clam up when the fertiliser hits the air conditioner. Could you find two better examples to show why Australia needs mandatory data breach notification laws? by Stilgherrian for The Full Tilt TT Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry YEARS June 2016 | 11


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Sharing economy impact How will robots and Uber change our lives? Special taskforce needed to investigate impact on jobs, workplace rights. The Transport Workers Union believes that the Australian Government should urgently convene a special taskforce into the impact of the so-called “sharing economy” and automation on jobs and workplace rights. TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said there was strong potential for a ‘hollowing out’ effect on middle class jobs, and an erosion of workplace rights. “The impact of the share economy and automation is the sleeper issue in Australian politics. Malcolm Turnbull says it is exciting, but I suspect most Australians feel deep anxiety,” Mr Sheldon said. “Nobody has explained how someone who drives a truck or a taxi will be able to feed their family when their job is consumed by technology. Cliches about agility, innovation and disruption don’t cut the mustard. The vast majority of Australians will not find work building apps.” “Nobody wants to hold back technology’s tide, but we need a serious national discussion about how the dividends of technology are fairly distributed. We must ensure we don’t end up in a jobs’ wasteland.” “The TWU wants a taskforce implemented to look into the real, live experience of people whose jobs have been automated or eroded by the digital economy, going beyond the narrow analysis of the Productivity Commission to consider how families, communities and industries are affected.” TT ATTENTION ! For more information call in and see us at: Become members of our united, credible and honest association Taxi Drivers, Taxi Operators and Taxi Licence Holders register with us and be part of a united voice The Victorian Taxi & Hire Car Families 888 Mt. Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds, or 105 Normanby Road, North Caulfield Ring Leo any time on 0409 562 531 Unity will achieve our goal 12 | June 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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WHO OWNS YOUR INCOME DATA? Your Taximeter Your Income Data Their Taximeter WHOSE INCOME DATA? RE-INSTALL YOUR Schmidt G4 Taximeter AT NO COST! If your taxi has been fitted with a Cabcharge Fareway Plus terminal and you are concerned about who has ownership of your confidential income data, we will re-install your G4 Taximeter into your taxi at NO COST TO YOU* It is your absolute right to keep and use your G4 Taximeter in your taxi. YOUR INCOME DATA IS YOUR BUSINESS BOOK NOW. CALL (03) 9546 6990 *Offer available for a limited time only. Bookings essential. Schmidt Electronic Laboratories Pty Ltd Trusted by thousands of taxi operators & drivers for more than 35 years Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry Address 153 Osborne Avenue, Clayton South, VIC 3169 | ABN 20 005 631 710 YEARS Phone (03) 9546 6990 or 1300 132 422 | Email | Website June 2016 |7


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Fels switches sides Prof Alan Fels - previously the champion of consumer rights in Australia and Chairman of Taxi and Hire car review in the State of Victoria - has been appointed to the Uber Advisory Board. Prof Fels’ recommendations that came out of the Hire Car and Taxi Industry review through 2012-14 were adopted almost in their entirety by the previous State Government and were enacted into Law on July 1 2014. These Laws require anyone who wishes to operate a commercial passenger vehicle that is not a taxi, in the State of Victoria, must purchase a PBO licence from the Government for $40,000. Previously licences were worth $60,500. These changes were imposed unilaterally upon the Industry with the (purported) objective of lowering the cost of entry to new operators. They also require operators to carry commercial passenger vehicle insurance and comply to a host of conditions relevant to vehicle and driver standards. Uber has been operating in Victoria for three years – prior to the adoption of these laws. Uber operates without adhering to these conditions. Uber has also challenged an Australian Taxation Office (ATO) ruling that its drivers are obliged to oncharge GST. Without having the operating costs that apply to the rest of the Industry, Uber has been able to offer its services far more cheaply than would otherwise be possible and as such, has gained significant market share, often at the expense of existing operators that do comply with the Law. Labor came to Government promising to address the issue promptly via a Ministerial Forum. Eighteen months later, the Industry is yet to receive any communication from the Minister whatsoever, whilst Uber continues to operate with impunity. Without a level playing field, the existing industry cannot survive – period. The life savings and livelihood of thousands of Law abiding operators is threatened. Last month Prof Alan Fels advised the Industry to ‘just compete’ with the new entrants and even suggested we adopt Uber’s surge pricing model. The Industry objects to these platitudes as it does not enjoy Uber’s cost benefits. (It was recently reported in Parliament that Uber paid only $405,000 tax federally over the past three years). If the Industry was exempt from the heavy compliance burden placed upon it – which Prof Fels himself, is the key architect – it would be able to offer its services far more cheaply to the Victorian travelling public and certainly not need to adopt surge pricing models. Uber’s booking app is innovative 14 | June 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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but, most worryingly, if this business model is extrapolated across the economy there will be massive repercussions for Australia’s already cash strapped Governments. Prof Fels claims that the Industry should ‘just compete’ with a tax minimising monster that flouts existing laws, his laws, is hypocritical in the extreme. For this to be possible, the Government should compensate existing licence holders for the millions of dollars invested in the current State issued licencing system and then impose the same conditions across the board – what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. George Kapnias Managing Director Southern Cross HQLC Pty Ltd TT Free Taxation webinars Annual tax obligations for employers With the end of financial year fast approaching, this one-hour webinar is a timely reminder for employers about your end of year tax obligations. You can find out about: • getting ready • key dates • tips to help get it right. Booking your spot is easy. Find the session you’re interested in and click on your preferred date and time. You’ll then be taken to the ATO service provider page (Redback) to finalise your booking. TT WEBINAR DATES 15 June 2016 21 June 2016 30 June 2016 4 July 2016 9.30am 9.30am 12.00pm 12.00pm Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry YEARS June 2016 | 15



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