Taxi drivers in the ACT are calling on the ACT Government to provide them with compensation, as they say an increase in the number of taxi plates issued has reduced the value of their existing plates.
The ACT Taxi Plate Owners Association (ACTTPOA) says the ACT Government has “flooded the market” with new taxi licenses, at a fraction of the cost that ACT and interstate families have previously paid for them.
“The actions of the ACT Government amount to theft of people’s life savings for no good reason,” said ACTTPOA chairman Petar Ivanovski.
“If the ACT Government wants to deregulate the market and manipulate prices down that is fine, but they must compensate private plate owners that were conned into believing this was a managed ACT Government market. Plate owners have demanded to be compensated and today issued a $76,000,000 invoice to the ACT Government,” Mr Ivanovski said on 19 February.
ACT Shadow Minister for Transport Candice Burch said the fair compensation would help “level the playing field”, and called on ACT Labor and the Greens to support compensation or a buy-back scheme for plate owners. She said the recent increase in plates over a short time period has resulted in the “values of existing perpetual plates falling significantly”.
“These are not big companies. These are everyday Canberrans who have invested in a government regulated industry to fund their retirement. They have worked hard, only to now have their livelihoods destroyed by this government’s cruel and unjust policy,” she said.
“The expensive investments these retirees made are now virtually worthless. This is causing significant financial and emotional stress to many Canberra families.”
Ms Burch said while the Canberra Liberals continue to support ride-share services, taxi-plate owners “should not have to suffer”.
An ACT Government spokesperson said the government considers taxi plates to be a “community asset that enable an important service to the community, not merely an investment product”.
“In offering these perpetual plates, the ACT Government did not purport to sell an investment scheme, nor a business model, but rather to provide a taxi licence mechanism for a holder to be able to operate a vehicle to provide taxi services.”
The spokesperson said holders of the licences who have used plates for income, investment and superannuation purposes via lease arrangements have “made these financial decisions without endorsement or assurance by the ACT Government”. They also said the government is committed to ensuring that “personal counselling services are available for those in the on-demand transport industry” and for people who require “additional support with the ongoing change”.