Cabcharge in hypocritical attack against Uber

By Leith van Onselen

Russell Balding, the Chairman of one of Australia’s biggest rent seeking companies, Cabcharge, has hypocritically attacked Uber’s ridesharing service, Uber-X, calling for a government crackdown on the grounds that it is both “dangerous and illegal”. From ABC’s The Business (video above):

“It’s a rideshare activity that’s illegal. And alls I’m asking governments to do is to look at the issues of having a level playing field”…

“I welcome competition. I welcome app-based competitors. But the taxi and hire car company operates in a regulated market, and I think all operators in that market should be subject to the same terms and conditions”.

According to The Business, Russell Balding has denounced Uber-X as dangerous and a tax dodger, and has written to all of the state premiers and the Prime Minister demanding action.

Uber-X has hit back, saying it pays all of its taxes and labelled Cabcharge’s comments as “scaremongering”.

Hearing Cabcharge complain about unfair competition is laughable, given it is the company that has for years gouged taxi drivers and customers alike with extortionate 10% surcharges on credit card payments by controlling electronic payments in Australia’s taxis and limousines. According to the 7.30 Report’s scathing 2012 report (provided below – highly recommended viewing):

Cabcharge has many tentacles which entangle the taxi industry. It’s also the largest owner-operator of taxis in Australia, controls the biggest booking and dispatch service, vehicle leasing, loans, labour hire, meters, insurance, driver training, government contracted bus services as half-owner of ComfortDelgro Cabcharge and Cabcharge mostly controls government subsidised disability taxi services for which some state governments insist all taxis use Cabcharge’s payment system… Cabcharge is the government regulation.

Cabcharges dominance in the Australian taxi industry once meant it boasted to investors that “its ability to make money rivaled the Australian mining industry’s biggest players”.

Cabcharges poor treatment of drivers has also led to cabbies taking out a class action against the company demanding millions of dollars of compensation for ripping-off drivers and consumers alike.

And let’s not forget that Cabcharge was fined $14 million in 2010 by the ACCC for a string of anti-competitive, predatory and other charges.

To the extent that Uber-X can break Cabcharge’s stranglehold on the taxi and hire car industry, both consumers and drivers should rejoice.

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