Victorian taxi drivers protest accusing the state government of wiping out their financial futures with an “unfair” licence buyback scheme.
The Victorian government wants to deregulate the taxi industry by abolishing taxi licences and introducing a single registration for taxis, hire cars and ride-share services like Uber.
It proposes to compensate taxi licence holders by paying $100,000 for their first licence and $50,000 for up to three others.
However, some licences cost up to $500,000 and many holders fear the buy back scheme will send them broke.
Victorian Taxi and Hire Car Families spokeswoman Sandy Spanos says drivers were staging protests in Melbourne on Monday to highlight the plight of some 3500 Victorian families who will suffer under the deal.
“We need you to come to the party and pay us out. We are mums and dads, grandmas and grandpas and we don’t want to be on welfare,” she said.
Up to 200 taxis blocked Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge as part of the protest early on Monday, before flooding the streets near state parliament demanding a full licence compensation.
Taxi driver George Goutzioulis says he’ll fight for proper compensation of his family’s three licences, with the current deal set to refund just 20 per cent of their investment.
“We bought under the impression it was industry regulated but now that’s been ripped away from us all,” he says.
Protesters also called for Transport Minister Jacinta Allen to resign over the issue.
VTHCF say Monday’s protest will be one of many disruptions put on by drivers until a total compensation deal is reached.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the government needed to sit down with taxi drivers and negotiate a fair deal because drivers needed certainty.
“We must start at what drivers say their licence plate is worth and what the government says they’re worth and then have a discussion.”