‘Wanted to leave a legacy for my kids’: NSW taxi licence owners repeat calls for fair compensation

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Chants of ‘we want justice’ and ‘we want fair compensation’ echoed across Sydney’s Martin Place on Thursday, October 20 as around 500 taxi licence owners from across New South Wales gathered to protest against the state government’s recent announcement of a $645 million assistance package for the taxi industry.

Around 500 people attended the protest organised by the NSW Taxi Council.

Under the package, revealed by NSW Treasurer Matt Kean last week, taxi licence owners will receive an additional $500 million in assistance payments as part of a comprehensive $645 million package to fully deregulate the taxi industry and benefit customers long term.

Mr Kean said “the package will provide $100,000 for each eligible Sydney metro taxi licence up to six licences per owner. It will provide up to $130,000 for each taxi licence outside of Sydney with no cap on the number of licences per owner.”

The anger and disappointment of the taxi licence owners towards this government package was clear to see at the Sydney protest outside NSW Parliament on Thursday.

The Greek Herald was on the ground on the day and listened on as a number of politicians took to the stage to express their support of taxi licence owners receiving fair and proper compensation.

Elsewhere, there was also a taxi convoy driving past throughout the entirety of the protest, and various people walking around proudly holding signs with slogans such as: ‘Taxi Owners Want Justice,’ ‘Shame’ and ‘The NSW Government cancelled my retirement.’

Sydney taxi driver, Peter Sorras (right).

One of the protest attendees, Rod, broke down in tears as he told us on the day about the impact of the NSW government’s legalisation of rideshare services such as Uber.

“I’m here to support all the taxi owners like myself. I’ve been doing it for 34 years and I’ve got nothing out of it. I’ve got zero and the government have done that to me. I was hoping to leave a legacy for my kids and I can’t,” Rod said.

Taxi operator, Nolina, also stressed that “we have been poorly done by the government” and said she’s calling for “a more level playing field where the taxi industry can remain viable and sustainable.”

“We are not asking to shut down anyone,” Nolina added, with reference to rideshare services. “It’s just not fair and we’re not taking it anymore.”

Nolina.

Another taxi licence owner, 50-year-old Theo Balafas who was attending with his young children, also called for ‘fair and proper compensation.’

“We borrowed money thinking that the income we would get from the licence plates would service those loans,” the Greek Australian said.

“We haven’t had income for nearly five years now and it doesn’t look like the government is willing to compensate us for that loss of income and not even for the value of the plate.

“So we’re doing this for the future of our kids.”

*All photos by The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.

READ MORE: Greek community rallies against proposed taxi licence reforms in NSW.

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