ABOUT a quarter of the people at Mt Pleasant Tavern on Tuesday night
arrived in taxis with Uber on their minds.
Despite Uber not yet ride-sharing its way into Mackay, the value of taxi
licences and regulating the taxi industry was brought up no fewer than
five times at the Liberal National Party’s listening tour with
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan, Opposition leader Tim Nicholls and deputy
leader Deb Frecklington.
Taxi drivers, licence holders, Mackay and Whitsunday Taxi general
manager Gerry Lucas and Mackay-based Taxi Council Queensland president
Max McBride made up a quarter of all the people there.
“Nothing is off the table, road construction, dams, crocodiles, mental
health, education,” Mr Costigan said to the audience and then received a
clap when he said “the taxi industry”.
Two questioners asked what the LNP would do to save what was left of
their retirement nest eggs, which were tied up in taxi licences, once
worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and now valued in the tens of
thousands with the uncertainty around the industry as a result of Uber.
“Our goal is to level the playing field up with ride share operators,”
He said they had been meeting with people of all walks of life and “most
would say the compensation is mostly inadequate”.
Mr McBride spoke about how the government issued taxi licences in 2012
for a cost of about $350,000.
“Those licence holders have got $20,000 back and now, by way of
assistance, may get another $9000,” he said, adding that it was gut
wrenching how much more they had lost in value to their licences.
“I do believe in the market, and do believe in freedom of fair markets,
but what we have here now is a market that is where the taxi industry
are heavily on the wrong side of a severely unlevelled playing field.
“I don’t expect the government is going to walk back from the changes in
terms of increased competition any time soon.
“But we just want you to give us a fair go… give us a crack, we can’t
have a scenario where all the obligations and most of the costs (are
He thanked them for coming and received a thunderous clap from about 30
Mr Nicholls started his answer by telling a story of when he was
shopping at Aldi with his 14-year-old daughter.
He said a lady went up to him and said ‘Mr Nicholls, God has answered my
prayers, I have seen you this morning. I did go to Mass last night and
said I needed someone to talk to about my taxis licences. My husband is
77, I am 73, we paid for our kids to get educated, they have been
through university” and she was now worried about her retirement because
the licences had no value.
He said he understood the problem facing the industry and he would “try
(his) very best to find a solution around arresting those issues around
insurance, safety and security and ensuring (taxi owners got) that
better chance of a playing field where (they could) compete”.