Leith has covered in detail Uber’s assault on the Australian taxi industry. In every State the taxi industry has been repeatedly flagged as in dire need of substantial reform, particularly its monopoly on licensing. These attempted reforms have never been particularly successful, which I would argue is entirely due to political connections of taxi licence owners, though public pressure is building.
In other jurisdictions Uber has resorted to conducting their business like everyone else – through lobbying and political efforts. I hope that with the general public being made aware of alternatives that this will provide the necessary political impetus to make tough decisions that will cost many of their loyal donors, and often friends, a lot of money, but will make the average citizen far better off, potentially including taxi drivers themselves.
Here’s what’s at stake in the eastern States.
Total number of taxi licences – 5,214
Average value of licence – $273,000
Total value of Victorian taxi monopoly – $1.4billion
Total number of taxi licences – 3,300
Total owners – 2,800
Average value of licence – $420,000
Total value of Queensland taxi monopoly – $1.4billion
Taxi subsidy scheme – $15million pa
New South Wales
Total number of taxi licences – 5,647
Average value of licence – $220,000
Total value of NSW taxi monopoly – ~$1.3billion
Here’s a taste of how this $6billion monopoly is sustained.
Taxi industry political donations (via LobbyLens, mostly NSW)
Paid to both sides of politics – $330,068
No doubt other States have similar entrenched and politically-connected taxi monopolies. South Australia, for example, has even fewer licences per capita.
I hope Uber and other new ‘ride-sharing’ (well, they are taxis really aren’t they) businesses can be the catalyst for the desperately needed radical reform to taxi licensing and regulation in Australia. The only barrier to this change is the same as always; the political alliances of a small group of current licence holders who have over $6billion of assets at stake.