86yo Bell Park investor loses all in State Government taxi reform Harrison Tippet, Geelong Advertiser October 27, 2017 11:30pm
EARLIER this year Faye Stephenson’s three taxi licences were worth at least $1.2 million, her daughter Caz estimates.
Now, following a State Government taxi industry shake-up, the 86-year-old has been left with no income and a one-off transition payment worth less than what she bought the licences for in the 80s, Caz Stephenson said.
“It’s the devastating catastrophic demise of all taxi licence holders, frankly,” she said.
“The State Government, under the guise of reform, has decided to call in all the licence holders’ licences that they had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for, per licence.
“This is not reform, it is a systematic comprehensive destruction of an industry as we knew it, and of good honest hardworking Victorians and their business.”
Taxi licences were once bought by cabbies and business owners for up to $540,000 at their peak, and were seen as a business investment.
Then the State Government moved to abolish taxi licences and introduce a single registration for taxis, hire cars and ride-share services, through the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017, which came into force this month.
For Faye Stephenson and her late husband, those three licences had become a nest egg their family believed was worth more than $1 million.
Under a buyback scheme first announced last year, the State Government gave Faye $200,000 for her three licences.
“They were paid what they called a transition payment, but that did not even equal the price they paid thirty-something years ago,” Caz Stephenson said.
“Because they were so dear to buy, a lot of people — mums and dads and grandparents — had put all their resources into their business.
“Now they’ve lost their business, they’ve lost their income, they’ve lost their asset, they’ve lost the capital growth on that business and asset, all through no fault of their own.
Announcing the new legislation in February Victoria’s Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the reforms would strip away red tape and encourage new operators to enter the market — boosting competition, improving services and creating thousands of jobs.
“We’re creating a level playing field for the industry and providing the largest industry support package in Australia,” she said.
“This Bill is the culmination of two years of extensive consultation with the passengers and the industry.”
Ms Allan said the Bill also included more $500 million in financial assistance for the existing taxi industry.
It is understood almost all of the $332 million compensation package for people who owned licences has been used up, in an effort to appease Victoria’s many angry licence holders.