Nov 2018

Taxi owners take legal action against Qld Govt

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KAP Federal Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter [PA(KM1] will join with lawyers in Cairns this week as part of a roadshow inviting Queensland taxi licence owners to join a legal claim against the Queensland State Government.

Action by the Queensland Government has seen the value of Qld taxi licences almost completely eroded and 25 per cent of revenue from ridesharing given to a foreign multinational rather than the Qld economy.

Mr Katter has been passionately encouraging taxi licence owners across Qld to stand up and fight.

“The passionate commitment by the KAP to this cause is ultimately due to that on present trends, taxis will be a thing of the past,” he said.

“Twenty-five percent of all monies for taxi transportation will now go overseas to a foreign multinational.

“15,000 to 20,0000 full-time drivers will be thrown into casualised labour with no real liveable income. To quote Graham Richardson on his Sky News show, $6,000m has been thieved off hard-working Australians and handed over to a foreign corporation.”

Mr Katter, legal counsel Barrister John Ribbands, instructing solicitor John Maitland, Ian Coleman SC and Gerry Nash QC are driving a closed proceeding, seeking compensation from the Queensland Government arising from the introduction of ridesharing in the state, which has adversely affected the taxi industry.

“If ever there has been a bloody and terrifying example (and these words are used with forethought) of the free marketeers at work, the Judas Iscariot agents for the foreign takeover of Australia - this was the classic example,” Mr Katter said.

“Please God, the leadership of the State Government will wish they have never heard the word ‘Uber’ by the time this case is over.

“If the Government gets away with this we are in pre-Magna Carta territory, the government- the executive –the Crown – are above the law. And all the hundreds of thousands of martyrs who fought to make the Crown subject to what we call the rule of law – will all be gone.

“The ‘sell-out Australia’ brigade will sell off their country for a political donation, or worse still just to be ‘in’ with the rich and powerful.

“Pharmacies, hotels, lotto newsagents, even the employee and his industrial award are seriously at risk from these free marketeers. Please God these forces of evil will meet their Waterloo.”

Mr Katter praised the work to date by the legal counsel involved in this case.

“The case is pretty simple – taxi owners had a property right, the right to operate a taxi. Government action destroyed the value of that property right and the Crown is liable.”

A formal roadshow giving the full body of information to the taxi owners of Qld will hit the road this week.

“There has been over 1,000 hours put in by the leading lawyers in Australia, the most-high level team we could put together,” Mr Katter said.

“The Qld Government by definition is extremely poorly advised on legalities. Very few lawyers have much experience with the holistic nature of the law; they become obsessed with small picture and lose or do not understand the fundamentals. We have some of the best legal minds in Australia on this case. One of the lawyers is John Maitland, who won a multimillion dollar out-of-court settlement for our farmers when the Innisfail sugar mill was sold out from underneath us.”

Ashley White from Ingham Cabs holds the only taxi licence in town and employs two drivers.

He has been in the industry for 13 years and sponsors local causes including events for children with disabilities and mental illness, Halifax Blue Light Centre, and Ingham Crushers rugby league.

The ride-sharing industry is making his livelihood worthless, he said.

“You’re left with something no one is interested in; you regard your licence as a superannuation fund – when you retire, you sell it – but in the advent of ridesharing, nobody is interested in the taxi industry, they see it as uncertain,” he said.

“It’s got minimum effect on actual business – the effect comes in on the overall value of our business.”

He pointed out that the Government regulated the taxi industry, the taxi industry didn’t regulate itself.

The playing field was very uneven, he said, with ride-share drivers able to cherry-pick peak times of business and avoid the tight scrutiny taxi owners are subjected to.

Tony Snell manages Innisfail Taxis and said the company had a rich history, established by returned servicemen in the 1940s, and heavily supported local industry.

He said Australian businesses needed to safeguard themselves against threats like the ride-sharing industry.

“Innisfail Taxis heavily promote our local ‘shop local is to grow local’, with all income indirectly spent in the local area instead of ride-sharing companies, moving the money out of Australia,” he said.

“So we say for all Australian businesses to stand up and don’t let the government destroy businesses as they have done with the dairy, fishing and now taxis.

“Your business could be next so don’t let them kowtow to multinational business as our government has done so far, showing no backbone or effort, to safeguard Australian companies and jobs.”

Innisfail Taxis has 11 taxis and an average of 32 drivers.

The company supports all schools, charities and sporting clubs, and provides free taxis to all servicemen and women and the public for ANZAC Day services and Christmas Day lunch.

“Being a small country town, we are very fortunate in that our drivers are often on a first-name basis with the majority of our customers and have forged great friendships and relationships over the years,” Tony Snell said.

“Hence, we maintain a high driver/vehicle standard with the most modern computer dispatch and security cameras to ensure both passenger and driver comfort.”

It takes 136 people to run United Cab Company in Mount Isa, including 23 taxi licence owners (who own 34 licences), 88 drivers and 10 base operators.

The company has two wheelchair-accessible taxis and does daily school transfers for 26 children with disabilities.

Licence owner Glenn Corlis owns three cabs.

“The licence was our super,” he said.

“(But the ridesharing industry) devalues it.”

If Uber did establish in Mount Isa, Glenn Corlis said it would serve a big blow to business.

“It would be detrimental to all the cabs; there’s no such thing as equal playing field.”

Mick Thatcher manages Gold City Cabs in Charters Towers and said the introduction of the ridesharing industry was devastating.

“You’ve worked for 20 years, planning your future, and even though there’s no ridesharing yet here in town, it’s making our licence worthless,” he said.

Mick Thatcher is one of four taxi licence-holders in town and owns the community’s only maxi taxi, offering services to passengers with disabilities.

He said ridesharing had made the playing field extremely uneven.

“We had one of our cars kitted out with cameras and equipment which cost $5,100 and our rego is much dearer (than ridesharing drivers),” he said.

There are currently 700 plaintiffs, who each hold a licence, involved in the legal action, and numbers are growing. It’s estimated that the plaintiffs have suffered a combined loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.

A statement of claim has been completed and will be filed in the Queensland Supreme Court by early 2019.

The claim has been years in the making, with the establishment of a steering group from across Queensland earlier this year. The group travelled to Melbourne to meet with legal counsel in May this year and again last week.

All taxi licence owners are encouraged to attend the meetings later this week:


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Contact Details

P: (07) 4061 6066
F: (07) 4061 6566
Visit: Cnr Edith and Owen St
Post: PO Box 1638
Innisfail, Qld 4860

Mount Isa
P: (07) 4743 3534
F: (07) 4743 0189
Visit: 42-44 Simpson St
Post: PO Box 2130
Mount Isa, Qld 4825

(when Parliament is sitting)
P: (02) 6277 4978
F: (02) 6277 8558

Local Call within the electorate
P: 1300 301 942

Email: Bob.Katter.MP@aph.gov.au