Injustice at work

An upheaval is planned for the ride-share industry but taxi drivers say it will give competition an unfair advantage. Exclusive – Miles Kemp, The Advertiser

RIDE share cars and taxis up to ten years old would be allowed on the road and with much less experienced drivers behind the wheel under sweeping changes to help ride sharers compete with the cab industry.

President of the Taxi Council of SA Steve Savas said the industry was not happy that under planned changes the age limit for cars will be extended from six to ten years, meaning unsafe older vehicles would be allowed on the road.

“At an average of 100,000km each year, that would mean jalopies which have done one million kilometres and are falling apart will be allowed on the road,’’ he said.
“This is designed to help ride share companies because the part-time owner driver does not have as much capacity to buy a new car as regularly.’’

Mr Savas said the industry was also alarmed that the Transport Department’s checks and balances on overseas drivers to make sure they had local knowledge and experience were being watered down.

SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo has leapt to the defence of the taxi industry over this issue, and quizzed department officials in Parliament this week using a leaked briefing which shows the Department is continuing with the changes started by Labor.

The briefing to the industry states: “Citizenship/Visa Requirements — DPTI propose to remove the requirements for applicants to provide a copy of their citizenship or international passports when applying for driver accreditation’’.

Mr Savas said: “We had a situation a couple of years ago that we stopped where someone took a bunch of street directories to India and handed them around for people to come over here, and under these changes now they aren’t even going to check if people have a visa to work in Australia’’.
Departmental officials refused to answer Mr Pangallo’s questions in Parliament, taking them on notice.

Mr Pangallo said the changes seemed to remove any restriction on who was working in the industry.

“If you are not even checking work visas there will be those who are not even approved for any work in Australia, jumping in a ten-year-old vehicle and working,’’ he said.
The changes have been negotiated for a number of years, commencing with the previous Labor government, and will need the Cabinet approval of the current government before commencing.

A state government spokesman would not commit to changes but said unlike the previous government it would consult with the Taxi Council over the changes: “The department will continue to consult with the committee and associated stakeholders, including the taxi council, before any changes are finalised”.

A spokesman for Uber said: “We look forward to continuing to work with Government and industry to progress reforms that support safe, reliable and affordable transport options for South Australians”.

In less significant changes vaping would be banned as smoking currently is in vehicles and more eye-catching designs allowed over the traditional white.
Mr Savas said the Taxi industry preferred white, and the changes were designed to give a benefit to high visibility multi-coloured ride share vehicles.

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