Victoria News – Jeff Kennett slams taxi compensation offer

VIC News
Jeff Kennett slams Victorian taxi compensation offer

Annika Smethurst, National politics reporter, Herald Sun January 4, 2017 9:57pm Subscriber only

FORMER premier Jeff Kennett has slammed the State Government’s compensation offer for taxi licence owners and is recruiting a group of state and federal MPs to campaign for a better deal.

Prompted by concerns the Andrews Government will introduce enabling legislation when parliament returns in February, Mr Kennett wrote to 40 federal and state MPs from both major parties, urging them to stand “shoulder to shoulder” in opposition to the compensation package for about 3000 taxi licence holders.

In the email, seen by the Herald Sun, the beyondblue chairman said he is worried about the mental health of licence owners and believes two drivers have taken their own lives in recent months.

Late last year the State Government succumbed to political and industry pressure and announced a more generous compensation package for taxi licence owners.

Metropolitan licence holders will be offered $100,000 for their first taxi licence, raised through a $2 levy on all taxi, hire car or ride-share services trips.

REFORMED BUYBACK AGREEMENT GIVES TAXI LICENCE HOLDERS UP TO $100,000 COMPENSATION

Taxi licence holders will be offered $100,000 for their first taxi
licence. Picture: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

The government will then offer a further $50,000 for a second, third or
fourth licence, extending the cap from two to four.

But Mr Kennett said while he’d had “constructive” discussions with
Transport Minister Jacinta Allan, the latest offer was “still not
sufficient”.

“Many have borrowed against the asset value for their homes,” Mr Kennett
writes.

“So please, these owners are not large enough to be a strong political
voice, but nevertheless are entitled to be treated fairly.”

The issue has already caused divisions within the Labor Party with two
federal Labor MPs, Peter Khalil and David Feeney, releasing a video
saying the State Government’s original offer “simply isn’t enough”.

Last month the MPs, whose seats are in Melbourne’s north, addressed a
rally vowing to support taxi owners and fight for a better deal.

Mr Kennett, who said he was driven by a “love affair with the taxi
industry”, said the latest offer was “inconsistent” with other
compensation offers such as the package provided to fishermen when the
government banned scallop dredging in Port Phillip Bay.

“I hope with the weight of our numbers the State Government will see fit
to rethink it,” Mr Kennett said.

“Increasingly, a whole range of people have expressed concern about how
the government has handled this.”