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.