Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Failure of Executive Government to Address Taxi Industry

6. The Failure of Executive Government to Address Taxi Industry Problems.
Ministerial Incompetence or Corruption?

The maladministration of the taxi industry encompasses all the relevant authorities and extends back in time over at least the entire decade under review. Of some note, this is a period of time that overlaps the tenure of both the current N.S.W. (Carr) ALP Government, the prior (Greiner/Fahey) Liberal Party Government, even back to the (Wran/Unsworth) Labor era. For the purposes of my current submission I would like ICAC to investigate the ministerial portfolios of Industrial Relations and Transport. In the first instance this involves testing whether or not the current crop, Jeff Shaw, Q.C.(Industrial Relations) and Carl Scully (Transport), and/or their departments, are privy to and part of an entrenched system of corruption in their deliberations related to the NSW taxi industry.

In the second instance your investigation should involve deciding whether the aforementioned are unwitting partners in an entrench system of corruption that they have inherited from theirTransport/Industrial Relations Ministry predecessors, in particularBruce Baird and Brian Langton, both former Transport Ministers. Itmay be difficult to decide what is corruption and what is just sheer negligence as the following correspondence demonstrated in regard to the Langton period: [X1-2] is my letter following earlier correspondence to the Minister and his department. [X3] is his reply which on careful reading exposes the Minister and his department.[X4] is a further, frustrated, reply from myself.[Y1 -3] is a further illustration of the attitude of the Minister and his department. A classic example here is the way the Minister of Transport Brian Langton dealt with the $1 rise in flag falls (from $2 to $3) in June1996. The flow of documentation supplied by me is as follows. First is a letter to the Minister for Transport about rumoured $1.00flagfall rise. [U1-3]. This is followed by a misleading and incorrectreply. [U-4] Then there is the letter from Alan Coutts, the D/G ofthe DOT. [V-1]. In this letter Coutts steps outside his area of authority and approves (supposedly) an industrial deal without any justification whatsoever. Note the original estimation of costs inthe Keatsdale Report [V16] reveals Coutts duplicity here. Then there is the letter from the Taxi Industry Association (TIA) advising it's members to charge $40.00 extra a day to all taxi drivers (under what law?). [V2-3]

Then there was my urgent letter to the Minister for Transport asking him to confirm or deny that he was a party to the Coutts' letter to the" Taxi Council." The Minister refused to reply. [V4] Followed by my letter to the Minister for Industrial Relations on the same subject. [V5] Conveniently, he too did not reply. Following this is another letter to the Minister for Transport from a taxi driver who was also an ALP member. [V6] The letter is self-explanatory. Then came follow up letters to politicians requesting that the matter beraised in State Parliament. [V7-9] Further correspondence shed more light on the Minister's lack of integrity and intelligence.[V10-11].

The issue of the $1 flagfall increase also demonstrated a failure on the part of government ministers other than Brian Langton. In July1996 a letter from me was sent to Jeff Shaw. [C-1]. It raised the issue of further breaches of industrial laws by the bailors. By way of background, my letter to the Minister here was prompted by Alan Coutts' letter to John Bowe of the "Taxi Council" which outlined how he (Coutts) has consented to and approved of (on behalf of the Minister for Transport) pay-in rises "from Sunday 14th July1996", (although he has no jurisdiction in matters pending before theIndustrial Tribunal.) [C2] (see also [Ahl-3]). By circulating the Coutts letter as official confirmation for approval of the fare risesand pay-in rises, (from Sunday 14th July), the "Taxi Council" acted fraudulently. On the 14th of July, the pay-in rises were imposed on all Sydney taxis - some two months before the matter was even discussed and deliberated on by the Industrial Tribunal. The convenient silence on this matter by the Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Jetf Shaw Q.C., was scandalous in the least. (For details concerning this subject please references [V1-20]).

Another Minister who failed to act with probity over the $1 flag fall increase was the current Minister for Transport, Carl Scully. In a letter sent to him (and Jeff Shaw) [AK1-2] by James Dalziel, the Chief Investigator - Taxi Driver Survey Project from the Dept of Psychology Sydney University, it was pointed out that the current proposal to drop the $1 flag fall increase from $3 back to $2 "betrays a lack of comprehensive advice to you concerning the real structure and function of the taxi industry. It is my understanding that once flagfalls are reduced, taxi vehicle owners will NOT subsequently reduce pay-in rates by an equivalent amount. As aresult, the average taxi driver will see a direct fall in earnings Dalziel's projection should be read in the context of the Minister'sdecision to drop the flagfall from July 31st 1998 without any consideration that the decision will have over pay-in scales. [SeeAH1-3].

It is not surprising that Dalziel's research and submissions have gone unacknowledged by the Minister and the DOT. (Previous Ministers have done their best to suppress independent research like the Keatsdale Report. See [PH14]. ) The Minister's own department defines "stake holders" in the transport industry of NSW as confinedto senior bureaucrats from within their own department, meeting in conjunction with other public officials from the Public Transport Authority and the Public Transport Advisory Council. No commuter reps, driver reps or even the TIA people. Thus the Minister apparently makes his decisions without reaction from those at the coalface. In effect, he is wearing the legacy of Baird's decision to abolish the Taxi Advisory Council. [AD1-4] & [NPA3]

I cannot resist the temptation of a few Hansard extracts [PH1-40]. Here you will discover what they said in State Parliament which is often in direct conflict with what they did outside parliament and amounts in many cases to a deliberate misleading of parliament. I refer specifically here to the efforts of Brian Langton and Jeff Shaw. [PH6] Further to this, their misleading press statements and personalised attacks on democratically-elected, hard-working taxidriver representatives such as myself amounts to an abuse of the privileges of public office.

Source: Sydney Taxi Corruption

7. The Bureaucracy: The Failure of Government Departments to enforcethe Law against Employers for Breaches of the Law.

Indeed, the apparent inability of the current Ministers forTransport, Industrial Relations, etc., along with variousdepartmental heads/policy officers, and, for that matter, even theonce impartial industrial courts, to either enforce or police theexisting laws, or to introduce relevant legislation that isbeneficial to the citizens of N.S.W. as a whole, is a crucial reasonfor this matter to receive ICAC's urgent attention.For there is documented evidence that both Dept. of Transport (DOT)and Dept. of Industrial Relations (DIR) inspectors are lax, negligentand oblivious to legal requirements when it comes to enforcingbreaches of the existing laws against members of the powerfulemployer body known as the "Taxi Council". This reticence to enforcethe law against the industry "big guns" extends all the way down tothe arbitrary and hit-and-miss way the law is enforced against evenlowly "backyard operators" with two or three rust-bucket taxis and aready army of naive, intimidated and exploited casual labourers; thedesperados trying to escape from the dole queues and willing to risktheir lives working for a pittance in total ignorance of allindustrial and legal standards.
Source: Sydney Taxi Corruption

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