With the Queensland poll done and virtually dusted, it begs the question, ”How has the taxi industry fared?” Well, the answer to that somewhat depends on whether you are a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” person.
As previously advised, the Katter Australian (KAP) and One Nation (PHON) parties gave strong pre-election commitments to help taxi industry members and they showed far more willingness to comprehensively address our concerns than either of the two majors. KAP pick up 3 seats in the new parliament which increases their stocks by 50%. Clearly an outstanding result and an absolute credit to State leader, Robbie Katter. PHON on the other hand polled well, and especially so in regional Queensland, but they were unable to translate that support into winning positions in all but one seat (and that was not even the seat that they held in the old parliament). Politics is indeed a tough and uncertain game. PHON State leader, Steve Dickson, was on the heels of the majors for the whole campaign and evidently did a good job connecting with voters outside the South-East corner of the State. However, unfortunately for Steve his own seat was in the S-E corner and PHON’s support of 1 in 5 regional Queenslanders did not help him personally. Seeing Robbie returned to the new parliament with 2 other KAPs is definitely a good outcome for the taxi industry. On the flip side, the exit of Steve and his experience leaves with PHON with just a solitary voice on the crossbench.
While some may want to paint a rosier picture, the election was yet another opportunity missed by the LNP and so once again they find themselves consigned to a term on the opposition benches by Queenslander voters. In TCQ’s pre-election representations to the LNP we encouraged them to differentiate their policies from the ALP by standing up for Queensland small businesses, especially members of the taxi industry. Unfortunately, much of that advice was actively resisted by a few senior figures in the party who had been courted and captured by Uber, as well as a handful of influential appeasers who appeared unduly scared of a possible backlash from the global giant. At least in respect of the personalised transport sector then, the LNP’s policies resembled a bundle of hopeful intentions rather than concrete plans to fix urgent problems. As something of a positive from the election then, it appears that the ranks of the hard core anti-taxi brigade within the LNP have been significantly thinned and the standing of any such survivors may be seriously diminished. In the old parliament, we had some good supporters within the LNP but just not enough of them. Hopefully, in the rebalancing of the new parliament they will be in the ascendancy and the LNP as a party can get back to its roots of supporting local small businesses. On the up side, there are reasonable prospects for TCQ to have much more constructive engagement with the LNP during the new parliamentary term, especially if they wish to position themselves as an alternative Government in waiting (rather than just an opposition).
As the adage goes, “to the victor belongs the spoils”, and so it will be for Premier Palaszczuk and her ALP team to occupy the Government benches for another term. In the old parliament, Annastacia’s various Transport Ministers made a range of decisions that caused great distress and hardship for members of the taxi industry. It followed that somewhere along the line discussions between the Government and the industry broke down under strain and seemingly turned unpleasant for all sides. The Government wanted to look strong and “in charge” ahead of an impending election, so there was a decided unwillingness to consider amendments to its course even when certain policies were demonstrably failing as in the case of passenger safety in booked hire vehicles. On the industry side, as passions inevitably ran high for members facing financial loss and even ruin, many good arguments tended to get lost in the heat accompanying those arguments.
TCQ expects that the new ALP Government will be different to deal with post-election as compared to its pre- election counterpart. The decision horizons move out from months to years and the political imperative moves on from looking “decisive” to looking to make good decisions and adjusting or fine tuning those decisions based on their real world outcomes. As a case in point, a regulatory scheme that has taxis paying $4,400 pa for CTP and their booked hire vehicle competitors only being charged $579 pa evidently fails the real world test of “appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency”. Both types of vehicle are in the business of transporting passengers from A to B and it is a simple case of regulatory distortion for a Government regulated insurance scheme like CTP to result in wildly different charges. Simply put, $4,400 pa and $579 pa are in different orders of magnitude, that’s wrong, and it needs to be fixed.
Lastly, I would like to thank all of TCQ’s members who actively engaged in the political process this year whether through their contributions to industry fighting funds or by direct contributions of time and money to their local candidates. The Queensland taxi industry is a political force. Members getting out and about in electorates talking to candidates and voters about the harsh impacts of regulatory changes was important. Looking forward, TCQ will be leveraging those efforts as we ramp up our engagement with the new Government, Opposition and Crossbench to secure a better future for our members - a future where we see more passengers, in more taxis, more often.
The Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) continues to work with industry members, sometimes above the radar but often below the radar, in the lead up to the poll on 25 November 2017.
Further to the previous update, TCQ has written to the ALP, LNP, KAP and PHON to encourage each of the parties to stand up for Queensland taxi businesses getting a “fair go”. To date, the Katter Australian Party and Pauline Hansen One Nation Party have confirmed that they are serious about fixing the mess created under the new rules applying in the Personalised Transport sector. We continue to push the ALP and LNP to commit to stronger positions on key issues like safety, fairness and levelling the playing field.
Regarding PHON’s position, Suncoast Cabs’ Director and TCQ Councillor, Clark Chapel, has recorded an interesting video alongside Steve Dickson (State Leader, PHON). There is clearly a lot of support within PHON for helping the Queensland taxi industry. That support is also being reciprocated as we see many taxi licence owners throwing their weight in behind PHON candidates and offering them help with pre-polling, as well as handing out how-to-vote cards on polling day.
Clark’s video can be found at http://bit.ly/2znbLex
Also very positive, KAP’s position continues to remain strongly in support of the Queensland taxi industry. KAP State Leader, Robbie Katter, has been an outspoken champion of Queensland small businesses, and our member taxi licence owners and operators in particular. Based on our discussions with Robbie, TCQ would expect KAP candidates to be solid allies in the next parliament, supporting our advocacy for equitable CTP premiums and shining a spotlight on substandard safety in booked hire vehicles. Not surprisingly, taxi industry members are also getting in behind their local KAP candidates and offering help wherever they can.
The ALP’s position for the taxi industry remains problematic. As the Government for the last 3 years, they created the current regulatory mess that is damaging Queensland taxi businesses. So in the lead up to the election it would take extraordinary political courage for the Premier to be owning those mistakes and offering remedies. However, we know that there are members of the Government who were very uncomfortable with decisions that they were pressed into supporting in the name of caucus solidarity. As part of TCQ’s advocacy on behalf of the industry, we will certainly be looking to encourage supportive members of the ALP who get returned on Saturday to find much greater voice with their colleagues in the new parliament.
Lastly, the LNP’s position presents as better than that of the ALP but not nearly as strong or certain as KAP or PHON. The LNP’s commitment to appoint a Personalised Transport Commissioner is consistent with TCQ recommendations but their plan to leave the Commissioner to fix the whole regulatory mess presents as problematic. If the LNP appoint the wrong person, someone who doesn’t fully understand the sector, someone who isn’t 100 percent committed to fairness and getting on with the job, their position risks leaving taxi licence owners, operators and drivers to endure financial distress and hardship for far longer than necessary. TCQ’s advocacy stretches across all political divides, so we will also be looking to encourage supportive members of the LNP who get returned on Saturday to stand up in the new parliament and be counted on issues like safety and fairness.
TCQ’s social media activities have ratcheted up each week of the campaign, looking to build momentum and focus around the safety advantages of taxis vis-à-vis booked hire vehicles. The diverse and unstructured nature of social media possibly results in many of our members not being aware of just how effective TCQ has been at influencing public opinion and shaping political agendas. As noted in the previous update though, just because the undersea portion of an iceberg may not be visible that doesn’t diminish its impact.
Lastly, I would once again encourage every TCQ member to consider donating some of their time on polling day, 25 November 2017, to hand out how-to-vote cards in support of candidates who we think would make good members of the next parliament. I know many of TCQ’s members have already been talking with their local candidate and arranged to volunteer their help directly. However, if there are any members who still haven’t made any such connection and are wanting to get behind TCQ’s fight for a better future, please volunteer. To help with that, the following link tcq-election-campaign-volunteer can be used to register your interest and we will then connect you with candidates who would value your help and who also may end up in a position to help level the playing field for our industry in the future.
The Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) has been working away behind the scenes with industry members all year preparing for the election to be held on 25 November 2017.
Early in the year, TCQ’s 20 elected Councillors were each allocated responsibility for 4-5 electorates. Our Councillors have been engaging with sitting members and prospective candidates of all political persuasions seeking their positions on matters of interest to the taxi industry and trying to influence those views in our favour. Our Councillors have also been engaging with their local members, and where they have found interest to do so, they have formed committees and teams to coordinate campaign and lobbying activities.
Also well in advance of the November poll, TCQ raised funds from member taxi licence owners to fund a range of activities, including donations to candidates, media campaigning, and targeted promotions.
The purpose of all these activities has been to support TCQ’s political strategies, strategies that have a very simple objective, notwithstanding the efforts of some to misrepresent it as something else. TCQ’s strategies are directed to advancing the taxi industry’s ability to work with the new parliament to pass (and enforce) legislation that improves the viability of taxi businesses – i.e. taxi licence owners, operators, drivers, and booking companies. Importantly, while we recognise that some parties have policies that present as more taxi friendly than others, TCQ’s strategies are directed at the candidate level because we want to see good, sensible people elected who we can then engage, and cooperate with, on fixing the current mess that is the personalised transport regulatory environment.
Over the last 12 months in particular, changes to the regulatory environment have created unfairness and hardship for every Queensland taxi business. It is what it is – but it sure doesn’t have to remain that way. Unlike others, TCQ is focussed toward the future and getting things fixed, not on the past and trying to exact some form of revenge for past wrongs. Simply put, TCQ wants to see changes in Government policy that promote more people catching more taxis, more often. When articulated in those terms, it is a positive message and one that is finding support from candidates across the political spectrum.
So how is the election campaign going?
Well, right from the get go we were securing important commitments from Steve Dickson at the Suncoast Cabs’ AGM, virtually at the very same time as Premier Palaszczuk was visiting the Governor to dissolve the current parliament. Importantly, the One Nation Party leader backed up those commitments in the national press a couple of days later, declaring the following would be a top “deal-breaker” for any party wanting ONP support – “Making major changes to Queensland taxi industry to have ride-share schemes pay the same insurances and charges required of cab drivers.”
On first full day of the campaign, I did a lengthy interview with Steve Austin on ABC radio. Steve introduced the 20 minute segment as a conversation with the Taxi Council of Queensland, one of the State’s strongest and most influential lobby groups. High praise indeed, given Steve’s reputation for balance and objectivity. Keeping our message simple, it proved to be a great opportunity to not only engage the Queensland community on our issues but also to make key points with the major political parties as well.
Also immediately from the get go, our social media activities ramped up to the next level focussing on the safety advantages of taxis vis-à-vis booked hire vehicles. While waiting for the election to be called, we had been building momentum in this space. Early indications are that that created a great platform for our increased push and targeting. Possibly many of our members may not be aware of just how powerful the various streams of social media are in influencing public opinion and shaping political agendas. It can be likened to the undersea portion of an iceberg – its huge and it allows TCQ to run with messaging that is customised for target audiences in the electorates that we see as being of key interest.
As the election campaign has progressed, I am pleased to report that TCQ has also been able to secure great support and commitments from Rob Katter. Rob has been a strong supporter of the taxi industry and I hope to be able to provide more details of the Katter Australia Party’s position on key issues of interest to the taxi industry in the next update.
As noted already, TCQ’s strategy is focussed at the candidate level, on helping good sitting members get re-elected and some new members elected. To that end, we have been offering and providing support and assistance to a range of candidates in KAP, ONP, IND, LNP and even the ALP. We are intentionally looking to position TCQ for productive dialogue with future members of next Government, and the next Opposition, and on the Cross Bench as well. Please be assured that where TCQ’s support involves financial donations, they are all being reported to the Electoral Commission and so will be completely transparent.
Lastly, I would encourage every TCQ member to consider donating some of their time on polling day, 25 November 2017, to hand out “how to vote” cards in support of candidates who we think would make good members of the next parliament. I know many of TCQ’s members have already been talking with their local candidate and arranged to volunteer their help directly. However, there would also be many who haven’t made any such connection. If you are willing to help, to get behind TCQ’s fight for a better future, please volunteer. To help with that, the following link http://www.tcq.org.au/tcq-election-campaign.html can be used to register your interest and we will then connect you with candidates who would value your help and who also may end up in a position to help level the playing field for our industry in the future.
Over 20 years on, Taxi Council Queensland (TCQ) Industry Awards have been the industry’s most prestigious awards recognising outstanding contributions to the Queensland Taxi Industry.
Each year, TCQ convenes an independent judging panel to select finalists and winners of the various award categories. This year’s panel included a cross-section of customer, peer industry, and law enforcement representatives. After hours of reviewing nominations, they have shortlisted the following fifteen finalists in seven awards categories.
This year's finalists for the 2017 TCQ Industry Awards are:
Driver of the Year – Conventional Taxis
Driver of the Year – Wheelchair Accessible Taxis
Operator of the Year 1- 20
Operator of the Year 21-100
Operator of the Year 100+
Customer Service Award
Significant Achievement Award
Congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted because even becoming a finalist is a great achievement.
Winners from each category will be announced at the TCQ Industry Awards Dinner to be held on Wednesday 22 November at the Easts Leagues Club.
Plans for a new international mega-cruise ship terminal in Brisbane have been welcomed by the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ).
Chief executive officer Blair Davies said when completed, the terminal, to be built at Luggage Point, would provide a significant boost for the state’s tourism industry.
“Cruising is growing in popularity nowadays and the cruise ship industry injects a significant amount of revenue into tourism both here and overseas,” he said.
“While it will have an economic benefit for the tourism industry, the terminal will also have positive spinoff benefits for other associated services, not to mention job creation.”
Mr Davies said the taxi industry will have an important role to play in the design and development of infrastructure for the cruise ship industry and its passengers.
“Taxis are safe, accessible and trusted means of transport for international visitors.
“When passengers arrive in Brisbane and want to explore the tourist destinations that the southeast has to offer, taxis will be one of the best ways for them to get around.”
Mr Davies said TCQ stands ready to offer its expertise when site planners are designing taxi ranks and general access to the new facility.
The Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) says a new partnership between Qantas and Uber is just another stunt by the booked hire service operator.
Under the new arrangement, Qantas passengers will earn frequent flyer points for fares to and from select airports, including Brisbane, when they book an Uber car using the Qantas app.
However, in an interview with ABC radio TCQ chief executive officer Blair Davies said it’s nothing new as people have been using apps to book taxis and earn Qantas points since 2015.
“We’re not sure that taxi customers think that chasing Qantas points is all that big a deal,” he said. “We didn’t see any appreciable jump in market share for those taxi apps that added frequent flyer points a few years ago.
“But if it turns out to be a feature that customers like with Uber, certainly the major taxi apps will respond because that’s what competition’s about. The taxi apps won’t be sitting back, if our customers like and want the feature, it won’t be far away.”
Mr Davies said taxi apps have been around since 2009, but there are still plenty of people who prefer to book a cab in the traditional way by calling and talking to a real person.
“There are also a lot of people who just want to hail a taxi they see coming down the street, or walk over to a nearby taxi rank and jump in the cab that’s sitting there ready and waiting to go.
“I think most features people like in an Uber app are generally available in taxi apps these days.
“We’ve made up ground very significantly and in many ways, now lead the competition.
The state election campaign is a golden opportunity for both of the major political parties to commit to fixing glaring holes in regulations for the personalised transport sector, according to the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ).
Chief executive officer Blair Davies said failures in the regulations covering passenger safety and security have been exposed in recent months by three booked hire service drivers being charged with rape and another with kidnapping.
“There’s a direct correlation between those alleged crimes and the State Government’s policies,” he said.
“This Government’s legislation allows booked hire services to operate without proven safety technology like security cameras, duress alarms or hard-wired GPS tracking units in their vehicles. Safety is important and this technology works. That’s why you find all of this equipment being used in taxis in Queensland.”
Mr Davies said the Government ignored repeated warnings from TCQ that its legalising of booked hire services needed to include strong safeguards to protect vulnerable passengers as well as the public.
“We don’t understand how the Premier can call an end to the current parliament before she has fixed this mess. The Government simply has not delivered on its commitments to put customers first when experience out on the streets is proving that passengers in booked hire vehicles are at risk of becoming victims of heinous crimes.
“We’ve not giving up on this issue, our door is still open to working with the major parties to solve the mess.
Mr Davies welcomed the commitment by Steve Dickson and One Nation to address passenger safety issues and remove the double standards being applied to CTP premiums for taxis and booked hire vehicles..
“The challenge now is for the ALP and LNP to do the right thing and spell out to the people of Queensland what safeguards they will put in place to protect the safety of passengers using personalised transport services.”
Booked hire drivers have been accepting cash fares since the services started operating back in 2014, and the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) is posing the question – where is the money?
Chief executive officer Blair Davies said it’s pretty clear that these cash payments go straight into the black economy, never to be seen by the taxman or anyone else.
“Because of the way booked hire services are set up, what’s to stop their drivers from just pocketing the money and not declaring it?
“In taxis, the fare is recorded by the taximeter so it doesn’t matter whether the customer pays by cash or a credit/debit card. On-meter transactions produce records that are auditable by the tax office and other authorised entities. The GST gets collected and remitted. The income is subject to income tax.
“When a customer pays a booked hire driver in cash, there’s likely to be no record of the transaction whatsoever and no tax paid by the driver.
“It then begs the question – what’s the government doing to catch booked hire drivers doing that and what’s it doing to stamp out the practice?”
Mr Davies said on top of everything else, even some booked hire drivers accepting cash puts all booked hire drivers at risk of robbery. Thieves have no way of telling which drivers will have cash on them and which will not.
“It is a problem area that needs to be urgently addressed,” he said.
“The Government has to start getting some street smarts when dealing with booked hire services. It can’t keep pretending that everyone is going to do the right thing, especially when these drivers can reward themselves by gaming the system.”
The Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) says Queenslanders should be worried by claims of police in London that Uber is more concerned about protecting its reputation than it is about public safety.
TCQ chief executive officer Blair Davies said London’s metropolitan police have accused Uber of not reporting serious crimes so it can avoid reputational damage.
“Uber neglected to tell police that one of its drivers had allegedly sexually assaulted a passenger and then the same driver reportedly offended again,” said Mr Davies.
“In another unreported incident, an Uber driver is alleged to have used a pepper spray gun during a road rage dispute.
“While these things happened in London, it would be naïve of us to think we’re immune to these kinds of criminal behaviour in Queensland.”
Mr Davies suggested that because booked hire services are being given what amounts to a free pass by the State Government through lax regulations, which are different to those that apply to taxis, there are likely to be unreported incidents happening here.
“The Queensland Government can’t pretend that there is no problem here. Reported crimes are just the tip of the iceberg, unreported crimes still have real victims and real perpetrators,” he said.
“It’s time the Government got serious about protecting vulnerable Queenslanders, real people who it has put at risk by a laissez-faire approach to overseeing booked hire services.”
The State Government seems to be conflicted in the way it is dealing with multinational companies, according to the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ).
“Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath is crying foul over Lottoland claiming it isn’t a fair deal for local businesses or for people buying lotto tickets, but those same arguments are just as applicable to Uber and its services,” said TCQ chief executive officer Blair Davies.
“The Attorney-General complains that because the money Lottoland makes doesn’t go into Queensland revenues it isn’t re-invested in local services, but how is that different from what the leading provider of booked hire services is doing?”
Mr Davies said that the Government’s new regulations for the personalised transport sector don’t do anything to ensure that taxes are being properly paid by booked hire providers or that profits are not transferred offshore to tax havens.
“If Queensland’s first law officer is so upset about the lack of a level playing field when it comes to selling lookalike lottery tickets, it begs the question as to what advice she provided to her Cabinet colleagues when they considered setting new rules for taxis, limousines and booked hire services?
“The State Government may not have any power to regulate Lottoland, but it certainly has the power to regulate booked hire providers like Uber. The Attorney General’s arguments about Lottoland are right, but she would be better focussed on removing the double standards being applied to Uber.”