Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Industrial Commission and the $40 a day pay-in rise (Sept 96).

* The Industrial Commission and the $40 a day pay-in rise (Sept 96).

At the same hearing before the Industrial Commission in September 1996 CC Connor granted a pay-in rise in favour of taxi owners amounting to $40 a day.[V-12] Commissioner Connor failed to justify this increase when requested to explain his decision to members ofthe TWU Taxi Drivers Section. (See [AH1-3] and [STD 5-6]). Connor simply relied on an assertion by the Director General of Transport contained in a letter to the TIA (and circulated by the TIA) that thefare rise (and expected pay-in rise) was legally endorsed by theMinister. However correspondence circulated subsequently from both the DIG of DOT and the Mm. for Transport openly denied any endorsement by either the Minister or the Department of any approval of what became perceived as another TIA/TWU "deal" to accept the $40a day pay-in rise before the Commission. Their correspondence also denied the construing from the Connor decision that the Minister or his Department have the legal power to determine pay-in increases.[see AM, [W-3] and [AH3].

Yet despite these hand-washing disclaimers, the Minister and his Director General must clearly share responsibility with Commissioner Connor for the consenting to taxi owners demands for the right to overcharge the travelling public without any adequate justification under the guise of the so-called "industry reform package". Commissioner Connor appeared to be even entering the political debate when he deliberated during his decision ". ..there is an urgency to grant such increment.."(i.e.the $40). Thus he implied the extortionately high fare rise was justified for the speedy implementation of the so-called "industry reform package".

Yet there was no evidence from Connor, the Minister, or the Department of "urgency" when it came to implementing the most vital and cost incurring component of this package relating to driver safety. Clearly the banning of smoking in taxis, the wearing of uniforms and the repainting of taxis were the cosmetic aspects of the so-called "reform package" and had nothing to do with safety reformas such but were part of the incidental and normal operational costs in the industry. The driver safety aspects - satellite tracking, safety screens, video monitoring, etc. were the more important, and more costly, component of the "urgent" reform package.

Yet despite the milking of hundreds of millions of dollars from the public over the two year period in question, (14.7.96-31.7.98), these new safety measures are still incompleted and in many ways an abysmal failure. In May 1998 the government announced that the reform package program was edging towards completion and hence from July 31st 1998 the one dollar surcharge on the flagfall -agreed to by Commissioner Connor was to be rescinded. Given that the "urgent" reform package isstill in reality far from complete a good starting point here for ICAC would be to determine where (the approx.) $200 million ofrevenue collected by taxi drivers has gone. If the answer is largely in the form of an unjustified financial windfall for the taxi owners then a "please explain" note from ICAC's office to various public officials is certainly in order!

Source: Sydney Taxi Corruption

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