McKay Queensland News

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

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

with taxis).”

He thanked them for coming and received a thunderous clap from about 30

people there.

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”.





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