Taxi Talk February 2017


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Taxi Talk magazine February 207 voice of the taxi and hire car industries

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TAXI VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY Australia’s premier independent taxi industry magazine TALKFEBRUARY 2017 1S22UF0ENB1RD7UAARYY ISSUE NO 583 celebra VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY TAXI MAGAZINE ON THE RANKS SINCE 1966 PROUDLY PUBLISHED AND PRINTED IN MELBOURNE Print Post Approved number 100004912 ting YEARS THE VOICE OF THE VICTORIAN TAXI INDUSTRY 1S22UF0ENB1RD7UAARYY FRAEuEstMraulsiiac’sFLesatrivgaeslt PRODUCED BY MAJOR PARTNER MEDIA PARTNERS St Kilda Festival is a celebration of community spirit,#Asusttrkaililadnafest music and the beautiful St Kilda foreshore. It’s a day of fun in the gseauthnaa,rtothuarnnilddlsstohunensFthcerseetebivneaaltcoshistaetFanavdneRdaowfAEafescusEuoopnmsybtMeuorsrfonatuuh, lncesoid3mias6ctafh’ofsSrtFettarKLebdillaseadrstakrhi.FovgBeesrsaetinitvsolgatl program or mobile app to help you plan your day. PRODUCED BY MAJOR PARTNER MEDIA PARTNERS #stkildafest


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TAXI COVER #1 SINCE 1978 Serving the taxi industry for 38 years • Trustworthy • Reliability • Service • Peace of Mind CALL TO DISCUSS YOUR TAXI COVER NEEDS THE OWNERS ASSOCIATION 9563 7812 9092 608210684| FCebreuanryt2r0e17Road, Oakleigh South OFFICE YEARS MEMBER LINE Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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Contents 6 10 LARGEST HEIST EVER Victoria is going through the largest heist ever of the taxi and hire car history. 16 FORGOTTEN PROMISES Victorian taxi industry is in further freefall. 22 WORLD NEWS A look at what's been happening overseas in the taxi industry. 30 HAVE YOUR SAY Letters of opinion from Taxi Talk readers. 36 BFAs Binding Financial Agreements. What are they and how do they work? SCAM ALERT Scammers don't discriminate. Protect yourself. 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. 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. VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY TAXI MAGAZINE ON THE RANKS SINCE 1966 MAGAZINE EDITOR Toni F. Peters FOUNDER Stanley F. White PUBLISHER Trade Promotions Pty Ltd ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Mrs Toni Peters Trade Promotions Pty Ltd PO Box 2345, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 Phone: ....................................... 0400 137 866 Email: ............................. Website: .......................... Media Pack containing advertisement sizes and costs can be downloaded from our website. DEADLINE All articles, editorial and artwork must be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to publication date. 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. HOME DELIVERY SUBSCRIPTION $40 for your copy of Taxi Talk to be mailed to you for one year. PAYMENT OPTIONS • Direct Deposit to Trade Promotions Pty Ltd BSB 033065 A/c 312786 • Via PAYPAL to • Mail Cheque to Trade Promotions Pty Ltd PO Box 2345, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 proudly supporting these organisations since inception..... February 2017 | 3


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4 | February 2017 editFoROrM’TsHE desk The Victorian government is still yet to make an announcement as to the date when ride-sharing / ridehailing will become legal in Victoria. Therefore, it is logical to expect that Uber (and other like businesses) would be fined by law enforcement for continuing to conduct a business that is illegal in Victoria. What's the use of having laws, when our own government and law enforcement agencies do not enforce them? of money in your back pocket, talk sweetly to those in power and you can do whatever you like - regardless of what the rules and regulations state. Really! We are living in the 21st century. The public has an expectation that when rules, regulations and laws are made that they will be enforced. Perhaps not! Cabcharge announced late last year that they will sell 49% of its stake in ComfortDelGro Cabcharge. If those ride-sharing / ride-hailing businesses who flout the law were fined - then that money could be put towards compensating the current owners and drivers within the Victorian taxi and hire car industries for loss of income and devaluation of their assets - their taxi licences. Chief executive Andrew Skelton said "We know that to capture the tailwinds of this growing market, in terms of both trips and electronic payments, we must evolve and invest. The transaction allows us to make strategic investments that will reward our shareholders over the long term". By not enforcing the law it sends a message to all, that you just have to find a small loophole, have lots So, is Cabcharge going to put this dollar (which is expected to be around $183 million) into its taxi YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY TAXI MAGAZINE ON THE RANKS SINCE 1966 proudly published and printed in Melbourne fleets or something totally different? We will be watching reports closely and will keep you updated as news comes to hand. A recent Bloomberg report showed that Uber has lost over $US2.2 billion in the first nine months of 2016. In a report from Vox, Timothy Lee says, "As a privately-held company, Uber isn't under any obligation to publish its financial results. But at a minimum, Uber's core business probably isn't as disastrously money-losing as its top-line numbers suggest." He goes on to say, "Uber's core business is sound, but Uber is investing heavily in things like expanding to India and developing self-driving cars." At the end of the day, it might not matter much who is the leader of the ride-hailing transportation industry. This industry, as we know it today, will very likely be transformed by the introduction of the autonomous self-driving cars within the next five - ten years. A Current Affair television program reported last month that consumers need to be aware of charges to their credit cards for fictitious Uber trips. That's a given isn't it? Anyone with a credit card knows that they must check their transactions on their statement every month. You never just blindly trust that the transactions are all legitimate. You must be vigilant with your credit card and ensure that all the transactions listed have been made by you. And you should never give out your credit card details to anyone you have 'just met' either via the phone or internet. Over in Indonesia there is a business called Go-jek, and it is going a few steps further than Uber and others. It is an all-in-one mobile app that provides access to transportation, delivery, lifestyle and payments services for all and sundry within Indonesia. It's payment method is Go-pay. They have Go-ride, Go-car, Go-food, Go-mart, Go-pulsa, Go-send, Go-box and Go-tix. There's also Go-life which includes Go-massage, Go-clean, Go-auto and Go-glam. That sure is a lot of Go-business! Toni Peters Editor TT Victoria's only Like what you see?monthly industry magazine Subscribe to Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi and Hire Car Industries to stay up-to-date with the latest industry news, views & outcomes. Published since 1966, Taxi Talk magazine is committed to providing taxi and hire car owners, drivers, operators and network service providers with information regarding government rules and regulations, new products, interstate and overseas industry news and much more. With 11 issues a year, Taxi Talk magazine is distributed on the 1st of each month (except January). anDmiosisnssu’te! Get Taxi Talk magazine delivered to your mail box each month. 1 year subscription is only $40 payment options are on page 3 W: | E: | M: 0400 137 866 Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry YEARS February 2017 | 5


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Largest heist in Victorian history The Victorian Government's proposal to pay perpetual Licence Owners and fixed term Licence Owners a compensation package of under $350 million, is in my opinion not only immoral but outright theft. I find it incomprehensible that the government can use the words fairness, assistance and consultation to justify their actions. They know very well that they are taking assets away from people who worked hard and saved for many years to buy them. can only assume that they discriminate against those who worked harder and saved more. Does the government use the same principle when they compulsory acquire houses that are owned by one entity and pay less compensation for the second and fifth house? However, the hardest to swallow is the fact that our government is not enforcing our existing laws but accommodating and rewarding big businesses for ignoring and breaking our laws. The second inconsistency exists in the amount of compensation for the different Licence Holders. We have to go back a few years in time to make some valid and reasonable comparison. Let’s go back and look at the value of the different taxi licences before the government interfered in a big way in the taxi industry by appointing Professor Fels as the head of the Taxi Inquiry. This is Robin Hood in reverse. I have been in the industry for over 45 years and until a few years ago Metropolitan Taxi Licence values were roughly the same as the average house price in Melbourne. So, let's look at the compensation package in more detail. One thing that stands out is the fact that the first licence is not treated in the same manner as the second or the fifth. The Government gives no reason or explanation for doing this, and one In July 2009 the government sold 10 year licences for wheelchair capable taxis for a yearly up front fee of $32,000. At around the same time the government encouraged people to get into their own taxi business by paying an upfront fee of $180,000 for a 10 year metropolitan taxi licence. At this time perpetual metropolitan taxi licences were selling for around $500,000. If we take the case of perpetual wheelchair capable taxis and use the above data we can easily defend a valuation in excess of $600,000. A similar scenario applies 6 | February 2017 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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to the valuation of a perpetual taxi licence. An upfront payment of $180,000 equates to an economic value of around $360,000 and I therefore believe this makes the valuation of the perpetual metropolitan taxi licence in excess of $700,000. Using the above valuations it can easily be seen that the government wants to compensate different licence holders in a discriminatory manner. 1. For a perpetual metropolitan taxi licence that was once valued at $500,000 the government offers 20%, or using a valuation of $700,000 - 14% compensation. 2. For a 10 year metropolitan taxi licence that has still 3 years to run the government offers 63%, or if we use the economic valuation 31% compensation. 3. For a perpetual metropolitan hire car licence that was once valued at $60,000 the government offers 42% compensation. How the Victorian government can say that it supports the Taxi and Hire Car Industry in the face of the offered compensation is totally beyond me. The Victorian Government intends to take $1.5 billion away from its own hardworking citizens and give it to big business. If they feel that it is necessary to replace the present licensing system then they should compensate all licence holders adequately and fairly. The new entrants or the ones who choose to continue in the industry should pay for compensating the present licence holders. Not the public or thousands of hardworking Australian citizens. The system of licensing and regulating the Taxi Industry in the public interest, was introduced by governments many years ago. It has served the public, drivers and licence holders very well. It should be the government’s first priority to protect the public from exploitation and uphold our existing laws and regulations. The government should not change laws and regulations to the detriment of the public, in order to accommodate big business. Hans Althoff Taxi Owner / Operator TT Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry YEARS February 2017 | 7


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Ride-sharing gets free kick The VTHF wishes everyone a happy and safe new year for all and a better outcome for our taxi industry. It has been an interesting start to the year with the Premier of NSW resigning. The pressure is mounting on government for the unethical way the stakeholders have been treated. As for drivers, seeing illegals taking fares while the taxi authority walk around with their hands in their pockets has caused embarrassment for the taxi authority. Pauline Hanson, leader of the One Nation political party, has defended the taxi industry by outlining the unfairness of the financial loss suffered by ordinary Australians, and that government has a duty of care to its people and to not pander an illegal offshore consortium. A “fairness fund” has been set up to aid stakeholder’s transition to the new taxi transport system. This is no more than a token gesture for assistance. The criteria and application process for compensation, does little to relieve the unnecessary financial stress already placed on investors by a government that has shown it has no control over its portfolio. It is part of a deliberate and cruel agenda to terminate an industry that gives so much to our economy, only Get the most current news and discussion on our FACEBOOK page for government to “wash its hands” of any fault and give ride-share a free kick. The importance of relentless pressure on government can only have a beneficial outcome to an industry that is enduring a catastrophic situation. It is imperative that everyone demand an appointment with their local member to keep addressing their situation for a fairer outcome. Victorian Taxi & Hire-car Families Assoc. TT 8 | February 2017 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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Treat us fairly ! Welcome to 2017! I hope you have all, at least, had a break and are feeling rejuvenated. At the time of writing, legislation claimed they understood “the has still not been presented to importance of a level playing Parliament some four months after field”, and “fairness”. the Andrews Government declared they were going to 'open the floodgate' for ride-sharing (ie UberX) to operate legally. • During this forum, the Victorian Hire Car Association (VHCA) contributed to the Ride Share Working Group. The government failed to mention The Government chose to that their intention in opening these ignore what was presented. flood gates was calculated to be at Indeed, even Uber would the expense of the existing hire car have not expected industry and taxi industries. de-regulation of the scale and Notwithstanding, perhaps a two week break for Christmas holi- breadth the Government is proposing. days, four months is an outra- • The then, Graeme Samuel geous length of time for our led, Taxi Services Commission political masters to leave pivotal (TSC) issued a 'cease and stakeholders (or in our case, polit- desist' order against Uber and ical victims) in a state of height- then summarily and blithely ened anxiety and uncertainty, not failed to enforce it. to mention increasing financial vulnerability. • The very disappointing 'Brenner Case'. A case that Who would have thought that in February 2017, the Ride Share debate would the government should have won but for a technicality. The TSC chose not to appeal the decision which sent a clear STILL NOT be resolved: YEARS after Uber started to offer illegal UberX message of encouragement to those wishing to operate illegally, to continue to do so, without fear of enforce- ride-sharing services in Victoria? ment of the law or penalties for breaking the law. And, this emanated from those whose Let's reflect: direct responsibility it is to uphold and enforce the law. • The Andrews Government gave us the Taxi and Hire Car Ministerial Forum - because they wanted to 'get it right' and continued page 12 10 | February 2017 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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ACCIDENTWe have Quick and COVER Easy solutions FOR TAXIS & HIRE CARS for all your Accident Cover needs Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry VICTORIA TAXI CLUB 128 Errol Street, North Melbourne tel 9326 3808 | fax 9326 4808 | email vic.tFaebxriu@aryb2ig01p7o| YEARS


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Treat us fairly ! continued from page 10 • The TSC, chose not to meet its statutory obligations at major Victorian events in 2016, effectively condoning illegal behaviour. But, from the VCHA’s point of view the TSC rubbed salt into our wounds by handing out information to UberX operators on how they can get their Driver's Certificate. The TSC attending venues not to exercise their statutory obligations to uphold the law, but instead were passing out information at Melbourne Airport to make it easier for law breakers to continue to break the law. • But yet on other occasions the TSC rigorously enforced regulations on accredited and licensed operators, chasing one operator, in particular, allegedly for a very minor breach, pursuing him mercilessly until he amassed legal fees in excess of $50,000!! • In December 2016 the TSC invited stakeholders to a 'special' meeting. The VHCA was represented by VicePresident Andre Baruch. Andre’s view, as was the view of others attending, was that it was a meeting, either by design or default, which raised more questions than it answered. After all this time, it is simply staggering; no substantive progress has been made. UberX continues to operate illegally and continues to gain an ever-increasing foothold within the wider transport mix, unencumbered by any regulation. We are now also seeing numerous advertisements on Gumtree and Facebook offering (illegal) ridesharing and transport services. The fine empty words of the government, “fairness”, and creating a “level playing field”, showed promise and have delivered nothing but pain and grief. The bureaucrats responsible for presenting their recommendations the TSC, The Department of Economic Development and Department of Public Transport, have done the hire car industry, the taxi industry, Minister Allan, the Andrews Government and the people of Victoria a grave disservice. Or, is it a case of sheer ineptitude? Tens of millions of dollars and emotional hardship have been borne by thousands of people in JOIN OUR FIGHTING FUND 12 | February 2017 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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the industry. Deeply distressing and disturbing are the reports of two taxi drivers who have taken their own lives as a result of stress and financial loss. To be clear, the VHCA does not oppose the introduction of ride-sharing! We only want to be treated fairly. We want to be adequately compensated for the compulsory government acquisition of privately owned assets, which the government itself pegged at a high level, and from which the government garnered huge financial rewards, and now, has decided unilaterally, are to be deemed worth only a fraction of the cost. We must be allowed to compete with ride-share on a level playing field. The TSC has serious questions to answer. The TSC turned a blind eye to illegal ride-share providers during the 2016 Spring Racing Carnival. Mann Lawyers, on behalf of VHCA members, wrote to TSC CEO, Aaron de Rozario raising this matter well in advance of the Racing Carnival. Mann Lawyers did not receive the courtesy of a prompt response to a serious issue. The TSC response arrived after Melbourne Cup week. It is worthy of note that it is still the view of the VHCA that the Taxi Services Commission has a statutory and moral duty to enforce the existing regulations as they currently stand. On the basis of the TSC's reply of 29/11/16, from Mr. Steven Brnovic (Acting Director Legal Services, General Counsel, TSC), we have instructed Mann Lawyers to make a formal complaint to the Victorian Ombudsman. We will keep you informed of developments as they come to hand. Rod Barton President VHCA TT If you wish to become a member of the VHCA and join them in fighting for your rights as a Victorian Hire M$2H50Licence Car Licence holder, send the following via email to 1. Membership details S$V10L0icence • Your Name | Email Address | Mobile Phone number • # MH Licences | # Special Vehicle Licences 2. A remittance notice of your applicable payment advising your bank reference and value of payment made. (A receipt will be sent to you) Please pay direct into our bank account Account Name: VHCA #2 Account BSB: 083337 Account no: 408246370 Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry YEARS February 2017 | 13


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Class actions abound against Uber The taxi industry is seeking “hundreds of millions” against the U.S.-based firm, said Marc-Antoine Cloutier, a lawyer representing drivers, owners and their union. Taxi companies and drivers across Quebec, Canada are claiming a first victory in their battle against Uber after a judge authorised their class action against the ridehailing company, on 24 January 2017. “Uber has made revenues nosedive for drivers and owners of taxis and limousines across Quebec,” Marc-Antoine Cloutier alleged. The lead plaintiff in the case is Wilson Jean-Paul, a taxi owner and spokesman for the union representing 4,000 drivers in Quebec. Cloutier said the lawsuit covers all taxi and limousine companies and drivers working in Montreal, its south and north shore, and in the Quebec City area. The Quebec government recently signed a pilot project with Uber allowing the company to operate in the province legally under strict conditions. Taxi companies previously tried to have a judge impose an injunction against the pilot project but failed. Cloutier said aside from the class action, the taxi industry is taking the government to court too, in order to have the agreement signed with Uber declared illegal. And over on the US east coast in Massachusetts, 33 cab companies filed a lawsuit against Uber and also the state of Massachusetts in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on December 16, 2016. They claim Uber is being allowed by the state itself to skirt the law and operate outside the boundaries of ordinances that apply to taxis and limos. The regulations both cab companies and Uber have to follow, when compared side-by-side, are very different. Like most everywhere else in the U.S., Massachusetts taxis are still subject to more regulations; and all taxi drivers must have a taxi medallion. Taxis must also have partitions between the driver and passenger as well as a panic button for the passenger. TT 14 | February 2017 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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