WA election: Party’s ‘link’ with taxi industry may bring headache for government

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-03/micro-business-party-denies-taxi-industry-link-despite-campaign/8323912

By Laura Gartry

Updated Fri at 8:59pm

The micro-business party (MBP) insists it has no links with the taxi industry, despite hundreds of taxi drivers around Perth promoting the party.

Taxi drivers have been actively encouraged to display purpose-made car stickers and support the MBP via the Facebook page of lobby group ‘Perth Taxi Group’, which has more than 3,000 followers.

“Promoting Micro Business Party is our only chance to bring the voice of the industry to the WA Parliament,” a post reads.

“PLEASE help us to show the politicians ‘The power of the taxi industry’.”

The Facebook page also shared the MBP how-to-vote card and told followers to vote for the party.

But the party’s candidate for the South Metropolitan region, Cam Tinley, said promoting the cause of taxi drivers is not a priority of the party.

“We have had several meetings and it’s never come up to get money for taxi drivers or reforming the taxi industry, it is just never mentioned,” he said.

“We just help small business. They are a part of that, but it is not our priority.

“I wouldn’t say it is a key platform, but would be something that is perfectly reasonable.”

The Government approved $20,000 in “transition payments” to plate owners and a hardship fund, but the industry repeatedly argued that is insufficient to make up for the sharp decline in plate value and trade since regulatory changes and the arrival of Uber.

Two business groups merged to create MBP

Mr Tinley said he was trying to set up the ‘WA Small Business Party’ for predominantly retailers but merged with another business group to boost numbers.

The combined Micro Business Party was registered a month ago makes no mention of the taxi industry specifically on its website.

“Ensure that any businesses adversely affected by changes in licensing arrangements be fully compensated for any losses suffered,” the tenth policy statement on MBP website reads.

Mr Tinely said the party has a broad focus, and only has six taxi drivers standing for election out of the 46 candidates.

The party has also selected Athan Tsirigotis, a spokesman for the Taxi Operator Legal Defence to run in the seat of Carine.

Despite the widespread support from taxi drivers, Mr Tinley said voting for the MBP is not a vote for “the taxi party” but rather all small businesses impacted by privatisation, retail trading hours and payroll tax.

Other policies include opposing the expansion of poker machines, the introduction of toll roads and lobbying for a better share of the GST for WA.

“Since we set up we’ve got lawyers, accountants, teachers, engineers,” he said.

The MBP is not part of the preference deal organised by “preference whisper” Glenn Druery, so the party is aiming for around three per cent of the primary vote.