NSW taxi licence owners hold protest in Sydney against proposed assistance package

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The dispute between taxi plate owners and the NSW Government is heating up once again.

Hundreds of taxi licence owners held a peaceful protest in front of Parliament House in Sydney today to rally against the NSW Government’s recent announcement of a $645 million assistance package for the taxi industry.

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.

At the time of the announcement, 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.”

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean.

Since then, The Daily Telegraph has reported that a raft of government MPs, including Member for Castle Hill Ray Williams MP, have slammed the package after NSW Transport Minister David Elliott introduced it to a party room meeting on Tuesday, October 11.

The MPs said the payments would not be “fair” to taxi drivers and the government needed to find more money.

‘It is criminal’:

This sentiment is echoed by taxi licence owners across NSW, including 74-year-old Andrew Demas.

Mr Demas first bought his licence plate in 1972 for roughly $27,000 and now, he told The Greek Herald, it’s worthless.

“When Uber was introduced, everything went downhill. Now we can’t even sell it [the licence plate]. The government wants to take our plates back and is giving us peanuts,” Mr Demas added.

It’s for this reason the 74-year-old was one of the hundreds of taxi plate owners who turned out in front of Parliament House in Sydney on Thursday to protest against the proposed packaged.

The protest is planned for Thursday in front of Parliament House in Sydney.

“Whichever way you look at the package, I think it’s morally wrong and criminal what they’re doing,” Mr Demas said.

“[By going to this protest] we hope the government can do the right thing and pay us a proper compensation.”

Martin Rogers, the CEO of the NSW Taxi Council – which organised the protest – also said he hoped the government would “revisit the package” and address inadequacies such as the dates during which you have to own the licences to receive compensation.

Under the package, in order to be eligible for assistance, people need to own their taxi licence as of September 21 this year and still have it. Those who have had to sell due to hardship, will receive nothing.

“The protest is an opportunity for those in the taxi industry to express their disappointment with the proposed package and we are inviting MPs, who will be sitting in Parliament, to come out and hear first hand the impacts of their decisions,” Mr Rogers told The Greek Herald.

“We hope the government will revisit the fair and proper compensation and make the package one that is more appropriate for the true impact of the loss.”

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

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