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Let’s look at the latest attempt to ‘milk the public’ in the emerging open competition between ride sharing businesses such as Uber and the protected taxi industry.

The history

Some years ago, as a way of extracting higher prices from the travelling public, the Western Australian taxi industry (now controlled from Singapore) did a Mafia-style deal with our State Government: “If we pay you ‘protection money’ you agree to protect us from competition.” This gave the government a river of money in the form of plate licenses and in return gave the taxi industry a monopoly with obvious outcomes.

Enter the digital age

Then, around 2015, along came competition from quicker, cheaper, cleaner, private-owner, ride sharing. It has been my pleasure to experience Uber in so many different countries and it was interesting to see in Athens, last year, that regular taxis had joined forces with Uber. As the driver explained to me: “When we looked at the Uber way of doing business, we decided to join it rather than fight it.”

Two solutions to the problem

The answer is either ‘competition’ or ‘compensation’. Current negotiations between the taxi industry and the State Government are, unfortunately, focused only on ‘compensation’ with the taxpayers (aka travelling public) again likely to be slugged either with a $2 per Uber ride levy or $100 per year vehicle fee, passed on to riders.

How can this be fair?

The government received the ‘protection money’ from the taxi industry and if the taxi industry thought that this protection from competition was a ‘forever event’ and can find contractual evidence of this, they should take legal action against the state for fraud. I somehow think the taxi industry would not like to expose their modus operandi in this way. This dispute is entirely between the taxi industry and the State Government so the travelling public, not being implicated in this dispute, should step away from this war zone.

The only fair remedy

Leave it to the travelling public, to choose its method of transport, without government meddling. Whoever provides the fastest, cleanest, cheapest, travelling experience will win this battle in the marketplace, not in the grubby corridors of politics.

For a humorous take on the taxi industry’s unreasonable demands, watch this video from our friends at the Australian Taxpayers Alliance.

NB: Ron has been pointing out the government’s bureaucratic madness since the 1970s — he wrote a letter to the ‘chief bureaucrat’ at the Motor Vehicle Licensing Board with payment for government ‘protection’, another letter to Sir Charles Court and his experiences were featured (anonymously, to protect his privacy) in an article in The Bulletin.


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