The leader of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF) has slammed the state government for its deregulation of the taxi industry in NSW.
The matter came to a head when Sydney’s rail network shutdown for several hours on Wednesday 8 March, impacting commuters throughout the city and neighbouring regions like the Hunter.
It led to numerous reports of price-gouging by rideshare operators, including Uber, who cashed in on the chaos.
During a visit to Newcastle this week, Robert Borsak warned people “to get used to it”.
“This will now be the norm,” he said.
“The government must take responsibility for its role in creating this mess… and it must take immediate action to fix it.
“We need to see a return to a regulated taxi industry that puts the safety and interests of consumers first.
“Anything less is unacceptable.”
Mr Borsak said the party had been vocal opponents of the deregulation of the taxi industry in NSW since it was first proposed.
“We’ve argued it would lead to a race to the bottom in terms of safety and quality standards, as well as increasing the likelihood of price-gouging and other anti-competitive practices,” he explained.
“Ironically, I met with the Taxi Owners and Small Business Association (TOSBA) in Newcastle [yesterday] to discuss the impacts of deregulation.
“And, I was shocked to hear of the personal economic impact on them and their families.
“Then I heard reports that Uber drivers were price-gouging, charging up to $500 to get to parts of Sydney.
“This left many commuters stranded and, understandably, frustrated.
“Sadly, this is what ‘Wild West’ deregulation does, even on a rainy day you will be gouged.”
Mr Borsak believes the Liberal-National government has let taxi drivers and consumers down.
“They’ve created an environment where price-gouging is normal and commuters are left with no choice but to pay exorbitant prices to get where they need to go,” he said.
“It is clear that the government’s decision to deregulate the taxi industry has had disastrous consequences.”
TOSBA vice-president Craig Richards agreed.
“All taxi owners and drivers have lost their income and their asset values have been torn to shreds,” he said.
“It’s taken an untold mental and physical toll on many of our members and their families.
“However, it is not just the Liberals-Nationals.
“Labor claimed it encouraged taxi drivers to take the government-offered package, which was ‘fundamentally flawed and manifestly unfair’.”
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