Thousands of taxi licence owners from the Greek and wider community feel abandoned by the NSW Government after a proposed $1 billion compensation package by Transport Minister, David Elliott, was left out of the state budget handed down on Tuesday, June 21.
Under the proposal, compensation payments for NSW taxi licence owners who were impacted by the introduction of Uber to the ride-share industry, were set to increase from $20,000 to $200,000.
These increased payments would be funded by an extension to the $1 passenger service levy, currently applied to every trip in a taxi or ride-sharing car.
The proposal was seen as a step in the right direction towards fair compensation for taxi licence owners, but its exclusion from the state budget handed down by NSW Treasurer Matt Kean has now angered the taxi industry and its members.
‘We are human beings’:
Peter Prorellis, who bought one taxi licence 15 years ago for roughly $200,000, told The Greek Herald he’s “very angry” at the unfair way taxi licence owners have been treated by the NSW Government.
“Most of us are over 60, over 65 now and that was our superannuation, our last income without going to the government and asking them for help and that’s not fair at all,” Mr Prorellis said.
54-year-old Lina Camuglia, who has Italian heritage, also expressed her frustrations to The Greek Herald with the latest developments.
Ms Camuglia inherited one taxi licence from her father after his death and since the introduction of ride-sharing services to the industry, her income has dropped to only $90 a month.
“If my dad had sold this plate when he was still alive and it was at its highest, he would have received $400,000. Now they are worthless. I want a fair compensation. I want to retire,” Ms Camuglia said.
“We are human beings and they are not considering the emotional and financial toll that this is taking on us.
“I’ve worked since I was 19. I’ve done the right thing. I’ve paid my taxes. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve paid my house. I’ve tried to do the right thing. I want this government to do the right thing by me.”
Next steps for the NSW Government:
In response to this anger from Greeks and the wider community, the NSW Taxi Council held a meeting with the NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Treasurer Kean on Monday night.
The CEO of the NSW Taxi Council, Martin Rogers, told The Greek Herald that the meeting was attended by himself, the Chairman of the NSW Taxi Council, Geoff Ferris, the Deputy CEO of the NSW Taxi Council, Nick Abrahim, and the Vice President of TOBSA, Craig Richards.
During the meeting, these taxi industry leaders discussed with the Premier and the Treasurer the concerns of taxi licence owners and highlighted the significant impact of the proposed taxi licence reforms in NSW.
Mr Rogers also stressed how over 60 Members of Parliament have signed the NSW Taxi Council’s ‘NSW Taxi Industry Pledge,’ which supports fair and proper compensation for all taxi licence owners, the continuation of the Passenger Service Levy, and a viable, regulated and reliable taxi industry.
After being provided with this information, Mr Rogers said the NSW Treasurer agreed to complete a “further analysis” of the compensation package under the NSW Treasury and will meet with the industry again once the work has been completed.
No time frame was given for the completion of this review.
“It was a positive meeting,” Mr Rogers said. “It’s really now a case of waiting on Treasury but we expressed the need for the work to be completed promptly to get the matter of compensation resolved.”
Comment from Transport for NSW spokesperson to The Greek Herald:
“The Government has worked very closely with the taxi industry, including A2B and Taxi Council to work up a potential financial assistance package. A decision has not yet been made regarding the timing of any Legislation.”