Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Will you support a NSWTaxi Royal Commission?

Will you support a NSWTaxi Royal Commission?

Taxi mafia used to wash taxis at Bayswater Road, KX. Taxi drivers wanted to sack him because he was not washing taxis properly. But, mafia survived due to racism and sectarianism.

However, he became owner of two taxis and a few more earthly possessions by shagging a widow. Eventually, he became the taxi mafia by adding misery and misfortune on taxi drivers, owners and passengers. Ironically, successive NSW Premiers and Ministers of Transport started to lick his balls and they threw bag full of money at him. As a result, he gained the power to sue any one, silence anyone and even destroy someone!

What a mighty man the taxi mafia is?! One must wonder what happened to other man and woman of the state of NSW?!!? Are they mouse and mice?

Faruque Ahmed
Free Australia Now
Mobile: 041 091 4118
Email: union_faruque@...
Monday, October 05, 2009

Cabcharge head Reginald Kermode sues Fairfax
October 02, 2009 06:18pm

CABCHARGE executive chairman Reginald Kermode has filed defamation proceedings in the New South Wales Supreme Court against Fairfax Media and one of its journalists.

The action against Fairfax Media Publications, Fairfax
Digital Australia and New Zealand Pty Ltd and journalist Linton Besser relates to articles published last month.
The Sydney Morning Herald investigated the supply of taxi licence plates and Mr Kermode's influence within the taxi industry.

Fairfax Media recently published a series of articles directed at Mr Kermode and Mr Kermode has issued these legal proceedings to repair the damage caused to his reputation,'' the Cabcharge board said today.

"The board takes the view that Fairfax Media's attack on Mr Kermode is part of a planned campaign against him by Fairfax Media.''

The matter is set down for November 12 for directions.

Fairfax Media did not wish to comment.

--- In freeamericanow@yahoogroups.com, "Biplobi Faruque" wrote:Re: Will you support a NSW Taxi Royal Commission?

The Taxi Royal Commission

The NSW Taxi Royal Commission is a good idea. NSW Greens are supporting the NSW Taxi Royal Commission. I was told that the Liberals are also supporting this initiative. A few Labor party MPs told me that they too are in support of a NSW Taxi Royal Commission.

The Sydney Morning Herald is doing a good job. A few commercial radio stations are also giving us plenty of air time. All of us can use these air times to advocate our goals. Information in support of our campaign is available in the
Sydney Taxi Corruption and other message boards.

Please avoid divide and rule

The Mexican Bandit (Jools) managed to waste our valuable time for his private ventures to satisfy his lust and greed. Who knows when he will stop!

End of the last year we were forced to waste our precious time for totally destructive goal and the NSW TDA gained nothing out of such a foolish (if not criminal) vendetta.
Before and after the election also we faced some tough period. It was not easy and I personally did everything to avoid an unnecessary confrontation. However, I won't be a spring chicken either. I will stand up for taxi drivers' rights and welfare.

Surprisingly a Few Allegations Against Faruque Ahmed Emerged Recently!

Some one told me that I am not good as Tony O'Donnell. The evidence against me was, "Tony is rich and he got his own companies – what you got, nothing!" The answer: Yes, I introduced Tony in the taxi politics. He was a good fighter. Later he took the "King Shilling", sold out taxi drivers and did many wrong things. O'Donnell also betrayed his master Tony Sheldon and the NSW TWU. Surely, Faruque can't be held responsible for O'Donnell's crime. On that time Faruque used to drive a brand new car – now Faruque is virtually broke! Is it also Faruque's fault?

Someone also told me, "We know all about you and your past record – your interaction with Emil Haraszti, …. ". Well, if anyone knows my dirty past then please drop it in public. Emil, Mike, I and many more people has started a few movements in the past. We did well and achieved a few things for taxi drivers. At one stage Emil tried to become a mini Reg Kermode! I pressed my foot!! A division emerged in the rank. The taxi mafia, TWU mafia, Robert Mayell and Tony O'Donnell took the advantage. They went to the NSW IRC and screwed the taxi drivers once again. Before Emil passed a way, he showed his respect for Faruque. Mike Hatrick knows a bit about this chapter. Silly Tony Denton was an outsider at that time and he is totally irrelevant in this debate.

Some one also told me that the taxi council (p/l) is good, powerful, … and we should bend over for that illegal and immoral body who have been sucking taxi drivers and owners blood for a long time. My answer is, NO, NO, NO. We must fight that corrupt body. The successive corrupt Ministers and government officials have handed over millions of dollars to the taxi council (p/l) and in turn the taxi council thugs have been using public money against the public, state, taxi drivers and owners. My mind is clear. The taxi council p/l is an enemy of the public, drivers and owners. I can not compromise with them.

Faruque is manipulate by ….

The telecrap articles are wrong, ill-motivated and they can't stand in a court of law. Our original Media Release, recent drafts are correct and proper way to move forward. I don't think INJUNCTION is a good idea for a number of reasons. The allegation of manipulation is childish. Should anyone presents a good idea and would like to work for that goal they will find my warm support. However, if anyone would like to use any events for their own advantage and contrary to our common interest then I will do what ever I can to prevent it.

I hope I made myself clear and let's move forward.

--- In Sydney_TaxiCorruption@yahoogroups.com, "Biplobi Faruque" wrote:Re: Will you support a NSWTaxi Royal Commission?

These links along with many documetns I have prove the fact that the DoT/MoT is corrupt and the Taxi Mafia, specifically Peter Hyer of the Premier Cabs got his 90% wealth from the public purse!

--- In Sydney_TaxiCorruption@yahoogroups.com, "Biplobi Faruque" wrote:Re: Will you support a "NSW Taxi Royal commission"?

Man with a licence to print money
September 26, 2009, Linton Besser examines the relationship between the players and the regulators.

It is no secret that Reg Kermode runs a dominant empire in Sydney. But for the first time this year, the authorities are making allegations which go much further: Cabcharge, says the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, bullies others out of the taxi industry.

It is the most serious attack against the company since Macquarie Bank tried - unsuccessfully - to gain a toehold in Sydney's taxi market earlier this decade.

The empire is fighting back, and filed a robust defence in the Federal Court this week against the ACCC's allegations. Cabcharge, and the other big fish in the pond, maintain there is vigorous competition when it comes to taxis. And with more than 5000 taxis doing fierce battle, being managed by no fewer than 12 taxi networks, it appears to be a fair defence.

At the top of the tree there are three dominant organisations with serious muscle and thousands of cabs between them: Cabcharge, Premier and Legion.

The key to the power of Kermode's companies is that they have links with more than 3700 rival cabs because they are operated by Cabcharge shareholders. But ''the matter is more complicated than that'', says the economist Peter Abelson.

Not only does Legion own 2.75 million shares in Cabcharge, he explained at a recent talk at Sydney University, but ''the managing director of Premier Cabs has been a director of Cabcharge since 1996''.

''He owns a million shares in Cabcharge with a private investment worth over $8 million [this has fallen to about $6.9 million] in wealth in Cabcharge, went to all nine directors meetings of Cabcharge last year and drew a salary of $98,000 from Cabcharge,'' Abelson said.

''So it is very difficult to see how Premier could be operating in anything other than operating entirely in collusion with Cabcharge or CCN [Combined Communications Network].''

The last national survey of taxi services by the research firm Colmar Brunton in 2003 found that in every category Sydney's taxi fleet was the worst in the country. Drivers were underpaid, ruthlessly exploited and poorly trained. Taxis were tardy, sometimes filthy and, at certain times of the day, they simply vanish.

There have been plenty of attempts to clean up the hire car and taxi industries - no fewer than 14 since 1984 - but all have failed and most have been covered up. A ministerial inquiry in 2004 was shut down before it could publish a final report; taskforces have been convened and forgotten about; files have been destroyed. This year the Rees Government has continued to hide a probity audit into a licensing scheme with holes in it worth millions.

Now, because of confidential documents seen by the Herald, astounding details have emerged of a portfolio in decay. Never-before-published memos and correspondence reveal the extraordinary extent of Kermode and the Taxi Council's influence in persuading the Government to abandon reform.

Most recently, a cabinet-level attempt to rationalise the state's dysfunctional taxi licensing system was buried. The reforms, which would have improved services and ''value for money to the community'', also would have led to a crash in the price of taxi plates.

In May, the Transport Department's director-general, Jim Glasson, was poached by the Cabcharge family and appointed to a lucrative senior executive position. This, too, the Herald has discovered, was nothing new.

Over the years, at least six former transport bureaucrats, or their spouses, have gone to work for either the Taxi Council or one of Kermode's companies. Some have been senior executives, others just middle managers.

In that time, the 83-year-old has almost single-handedly revolutionised the industry. By the mid-1980s, serious money began flowing. To a large degree, this was because of Kermode's pioneering efforts at installing new radio and computer technology in his dispatch centres. And crucially, when competing taxi networks would subscribe to his payment-processing technology, Cabcharge, they would also become its shareholders.

As Cabcharge grew, as it hit the sharemarket in December 1999, and as it acquired all of Kermode's other taxi interests, his rivals were transformed into allies, each with a keen interest in ensuring the financial health of his companies.

But Kermode and the other elite on the Taxi Council knew their wealth and power rose and fell at the whim of the regulator.

''Reg Kermode would ring me two or three times a week,'' a middle-ranking official remembered. ''If you look out your window,'' he said Kermode would say, ''you'll see another new cab [going] past.''

John Walker, a former director-general of the Transport Department, described the lobbying from Kermode as ''constant''.

''I was always friendly with Reg Kermode,'' another said. ''You would get a phone call from Reg and invariably a request would be made.''

This was nothing unusual, it seems. So close were these people during the 1980s and early '90s, the players and the regulators, that the exchange of gifts at Christmas was not uncommon.

''At the ministry, a big box of scotch would arrive that was given to us from the Taxi Council,'' the Herald was told by one former official. ''Ken Trott [a former director-general] would get the Black Label, and we would get the Red Label.

''That went on for years. The girls would get the chocolates and the blokes would get scotch … It didn't feel like a bribe but it was something the industry gave us.''

Parliamentarians also got the Kermode treatment. Bruce Baird, the transport minister in the Greiner government, said the taxi king featured regularly in his diary. ''He was constant. He was coming up to see me regularly.''

And it wasn't just boozy dinners and Christmas gifts; Kermode befriended bureaucrats. Four years ago, Anne Rein, the wife of Rod Gilmour, a departmental executive director, became a senior executive at Cabcharge on an annual salary of more than $200,000.

In 1982 the Government was talking about introducing 100 extra taxis to get drinkers home after the introduction of random breath testing; two years later, a departmental review recommended lifting entry restrictions from the hire car industry, introducing new competition for taxi fares; and in 1988 the Greiner government threatened to fully deregulate the industry.

But the industry's leaders, including Kermode, saw off all these threats. The department released only 40 plates in 1982, not 100. Outrageous licence fees kept a lid on the rival hire car industry for many years, and the 1984 departmental review was largely ignored. And as for the premier's efforts at broad deregulation, Baird now says: ''It was not a major period of reform, which I think is a great pity.''

Over the years, other reforms have been stymied, too. Confidential files also reveal the Taxi Council - which owns the only taxi driver training curriculum recognised in NSW, according to department files seen by the Herald - opposed moves by the Government to set up an independent driver training assessment centre. It never happened.

A Herald investigation revealed this week that companies run by Kermode have received the largest share of free taxi plates issued by governments stretching back to Neville Wran.

This week the new Transport Minister, David Campbell, had little to say about the taxi industry. And, perhaps more ominously, neither has the Opposition. Kermode's Cabcharge has openly donated more heavily to the ALP over the years, but the conservatives have received tens of thousands of dollars, too.

The Greens have called for an inquiry into the way taxi licensing has been managed by the Government. But the Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, has said only that ''we're happy to have a look at what the Greens' terms of reference are''.

As it turns out, O'Farrell and Kermode go way back. The taxi tsar attended his wedding.

--- In Sydney_TaxiCorruption@yahoogroups.com, "Biplobi Faruque" wrote:Will you support a "NSW Taxi Royal commission"?

Will you support a "NSW Taxi Royal commission" for the sake of fairness and justice rather than the Telecrap's false crusade
Cabbie cheats face the sack based on false and fabricated reasons and grounds? The choice is yours and you will be judged by the history.

Missing in the list:

Our attempt to have an ICAC Inquiry
Our attempt to have a Parliamentary Staysafe Committee Inquiry
Our attempt to have a NSW Taxi Royal Commission
Roy Morgan Report conducted by Ms Ann Matheson re ATIS
Keatsdale Report (the DoT and the NSW Workcover Authority) re Taxi Drivers' Safety
Dalziel Reports (Sydney University, Dept of Psychology)
However we have some interesting documents.

Faruque Ahmed
Free Australia Now, Mobile: 041 091 4118, Email: union_faruque@...

Inquiries into the taxi and hire car industry

2007 Taxi Licensing Review Rationalization of taxi plates - Never made public.
2006 Administration of the 'Nexus Scheme' - Final Report Probity investigation into the issue of free plates - Never made public
2006 Taxi Industry Safety and Security Task force - Final Report Driver safety (Madden Report) - Report released (Nothing was done) December 2007.
2005 WAT committee report Wheelchair-accessible services -Never made public.
2005 NSW Taxi Taskforce To address 2004 Ministerial Inquiry Interim Report Never made public.
2004 Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Taskforce Improve disabled services - Never made public
2004 Auditor-General annual review Examines Nexus Plates Probity investigation into the issue of free plates Government - review not released.
2004 Ministerial Inquiry In to the Taxi Industry All led by Allan Cook Interim report published and inquiry shut down.
1999 National Competition Council Recommends urgent reform of NSW taxi industry None.
1999 Ombudsman Inquiry into hire car license fees Hire car industry regulation by the MoT Licence fees, Eventually reduced from $16,100 to $8,235
1998 Taxi Legislation Review Anti-competitive regulations - Never Made Public
1995 Ron Cotton & Associates Review Recommended hire car license fees be halved. Never Made Public
1993 Arthur Anderson review of taxi and hire car plates. Recommended hire car license fees be halved. Never Made Public
1990 ICAC Operation ITA Corruption in Department of Motor Transport Overhaul of non-taxi driver licensing procedures
1987 Review of Hire Cars and Wedding Cars Recommended hire car plates be issued at market value None
1984 Dawn Linklater Review Deregulation of the Hire Car industry. Never made public
Faruque Ahmed

USERS of Sydney taxis know that they are licensed, but they may well wonder why. Taxi passengers have to put up with cabs which are often dirty, and driven by people who with disturbing frequency do not know the most direct route to simple destinations. When booked they can simply fail to arrive. What role, they may ask, does licensing play in maintaining standards in the industry? As readers of Linton Besser's series on the industry have discovered, licensing in effect maintains not standards, but the dominance of one group, Cabcharge, over the entire industry.
The company's dominance has been built up over decades to the point where, as the Herald has shown, both sides of politics have been furthering its interests.
On Sunday it was revealed that the NSW Taxi Council has refused to fulfil its legal requirement to provide the State Government with statistics on the performance of Sydney's taxi networks. The council is offended that past statistics had found their way to the Herald - even though these statistics were benign. It says a great deal about the relationship between the taxi industry and the State Government that the public is forbidden by a government-licensed industry to know how that industry is performing.
Secrecy, in fact, is endemic. The number of licenses is restricted and as a result those licences have great value. The Government keeps secret its list of those who buy and sell taxi plates in a market that is worth up to $2.2 billion.
The details of the state's licensees, solicitors and landholders are all on the public record. Until our investigation, who owns the licence plates has not been public information. Why not? What possible public benefit is conferred by this confidentiality?
The links between the bureaucracy and the dominant player are deep. Public servants whose job has been to oversee the industry have taken jobs with Cabcharge. The effect of this close relationship has been to stymie competition and produce a second-rate taxi service. A series of inquiries over a decade have recommended that the industry be opened up to new operators, but ferocious resistance from Cabcharge, with its deep links in the bureaucracy, has defeated all attempts at reform.

The series shows the regulator has become the captive of the industry. Roles are reversed: the industry regulates the public service, not the other way around, and controls what the public may know of the relationship. Sydney deserves better. It deserves an open industry in which roughly equal competitors vie for custom. The first step must be to open up information on the taxi industry.

Cabcharge will fight regulator in court
ELISABETH SEXTON, September 22, 2009

CABCHARGE Australia has signalled a robust defence to the competition regulator's lawsuit which alleges the company tried to eliminate competitors and deter potential rivals in the taxi industry between 2002 and 2008.
In its formal response filed in the Federal Court on Friday, Cabcharge denies it misused its power as Australia's largest processor of payments for taxi fares.
It also takes issue with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's assessment that there is a discrete market for processing taxi payments.
''Electronic processing services outside of a taxi and manual processing services are … reasonably substitutable for electronic processing services [in taxis],'' the defence says.
In one area the document admits to conduct which was ''done without authority and without the knowledge or approval of the board''. The admission relates to ACCC's allegation Cabcharge updated some taxi meters free of charge when fares changed.
The defence document admits that free updates were supplied, but says this was unauthorised and denies it was done as part of a strategy to prevent new rivals gaining a foothold.
It also denies the broader claim that by integrating its eftpos terminals with taxi meters from 2004 it ''materially reduced the likelihood of other meter suppliers being able to enter or compete with Cabcharge in the electronic processing market''.

In relation to the 10 per cent commission Cabcharge charges on all credit, debit and charge card transactions in taxis, the document says that ''not all the revenue received by it from the 10 per cent service fee is retained by it''.
It admits that its revenue exceeded its costs of supplying processing services, but does not admit the ACCC's allegation that ''the 10 per cent service fee provided Cabcharge with profits consistent with it having a substantial degree of power in the electronic processing market''.
''Cabcharge admits that the 10 per cent service fee is not directly derived from or calculable by reference to the costs to Cabcharge of supplying electronic processing services and manual processing services,'' it says.
Cabcharge denies the ACCC allegations it illegally refused to allow its rivals access to its electronic terminals. ''Its purpose in engaging in its conduct in relation to each of the alleged refusals to deal was to achieve a legitimate business objective,'' it says.

Monday, 21 September, 2009 3:15 PM

Thank you for your e-mail to the Hon David Campbell MP, Minister for Transport and Minister for the Illawarra.

Your correspondence has been noted and will be given all necessary attention.

Office of the Minister for Transport Minister for the Illawarra Ph: 9228 3777 Fx: 9228 3722

Politicians, Journalists, community leaders,
Will you support a Taxi Royal Commission in NSW?

Taxi Mafia,

I have been collecting and analysing many taxi industry documents for a long time. Most important ones are photocopied and stored at different locations including webs and blogs.

Therefore, any funny business won't work.

Faruque Ahmed
Mobile: 041 091 4118, Email: union_faruque@...

Faruque Ahmed
LINTON BESSER, September 20, 2009

Ongoing nuisance... Greg Killen says for the disabled, booking taxis is a lottery. Photo: Peter Rae
A QUARTER of all wheelchair-accessible taxis in Sydney are in danger of being declared unfit for service, with many posing a safety risk to passengers and operating in breach of federal guidelines.
---------------------------------------------------------MULTIMEDIA: Find out how Reg Kermode got to the top, and read the documents which put him there.---------------------------------------------------------
And since December 2007, Sydney's taxi service has been in breach of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act because pick-up times for wheelchair-bound passengers lag well behind those for ordinary taxi bookings.

Yesterday The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the country's biggest taxi company, Cabcharge, run by Reg Kermode, continues to profit from $19.4 million worth of taxi plates given out free by successive state governments.
While all taxi networks received these plates, it was companies run by Mr Kermode that received the largest share. Under the most lucrative of these schemes, the millions of dollars in revenue generated by these free plates were meant to subsidise a growing fleet of wheelchair-accessible taxis.

A test case before the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has heard that as many as a quarter of Sydney's modified wheelchair taxis may breach government standards.

The case, which has been brought by one wheelchair taxi passenger, Greg Killeen, and is being run by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, may result in a major overhaul of the type of
disabled taxis being accredited by the State Government.

Mr Killeen told The Sun-Herald the Department of Transport and Infrastructure had been aware of the problem since June 2006.

''Booking taxis is a lottery as to the type of wheelchair taxi that may arrive,'' he said.
''The impact of wheelchair-accessible taxis with inefficient space for wheelchair passengers has created an ongoing nuisance for up to 10½ years.''

The centre says more than 100 wheelchair-accessible taxis - roughly a quarter of Sydney's fleet - do not comply with standards introduced in 2002 under federal anti-discrimination legislation. They say there is insufficient room provided for wheelchair passengers - in one style of vehicle conversion, the steel wheelchair ramp is stowed directly behind the passenger's head.

If the commission agrees the conversions breach the standards, it is possible all of these vehicles will be declared invalid.
Advocacy centre chief executive Robin Banks said national disability standards were meant to improve access to public transport for people with disabilities.
''However, many people with a wheelchair are not able to use wheelchair-accessible taxis in NSW because of the way these standards have been interpreted by the department. This is absurd.''
In August 2007 the Roads and Traffic Authority agreed.
In a document released to the centre under freedom of information, its manager of vehicle operations and investigation, Harry Vertsonis, examined all the types of converted vehicles nominated by Mr Killeen and found them too small.
''On Thursday 9th August 2007, I attended Silverwater Motor Registry to inspect the six wheelchair accessible taxis nominated by Mr Greg Killeen in order to determine their compliance with Section 9.1 'Minimum Size for Allocated Space'.
''Given that all taxis nominated by Mr Killeen failed to meet the requirements of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002, it is recommended that a comprehensive audit of all Wheelchair Accessible Taxis be instigated and all non-complying vehicles made to conform.''
The Ministry of Transport later disputed this memo. It has since written to Canberra to have the standards clarified.
One of the firms facing scrutiny is Right Price Conversions, which says it has carried out more vehicle conversions than any other company in Sydney.
But even with all Sydney's wheelchair taxis in operation, response times remain below-standard for those in wheelchairs.
Under the 2002 standards, taxi networks were given until December 31, 2007, to ensure response times where the same for both wheelchair accessible taxis and other cabs. But performance statistics released to advocacy centre under freedom of information show the networks are still to meet the requirement.
In February disabled passengers had to wait more than 10 minutes longer for a taxi, on average, than those who wanted a standard vehicle.
Please click the link if you like Taxi Cab Inspection System:

Main players had most to lose from reform plan

Annual expenditure of the committee. Photo: Sydney Morning Herald
OVER three years, a big reform package for Sydney's dysfunctional taxi industry bubbled away inside the State Government. By rationalising taxi licences and restructuring the industry, the changes would ''improve service quality and value for money to the community'', according to cabinet documents.
But the reforms also would have diluted the power and influence of Sydney's taxi networks, including those owned by Cabcharge, and by last year the top-secret project was buried inside the Transport Department, where it remains today.
In May, the top official overseeing the department during that period, Jim Glasson, was appointed chief executive officer of a Cabcharge joint venture company. He followed a string of other department officials who had been appointed to jobs within Cabcharge, which is headed by executive chairman Reg Kermode.
Mr Kermode's companies received the largest share of $35 million worth of taxi licences first loaned free by the Wran government, and then handed over by the Carr government, the Herald revealed on Saturday. Neville Wran is now a Cabcharge director with a share package worth $1.5 million.
Tracey Cain, a spokeswoman for Mr Kermode, Cabcharge and the NSW Taxi Council, described the Herald's coverage as ''badly researched innuendo'' and declined to comment further. Offered an opportunity to identify any errors of fact in the reporting, Ms Cain declined: ''That would be offering commentary.''
During Mr Glasson's three-year tenure at the top of the ministry, a planned move to restructure the taxi industry came to a head after a string of official inquiries recommended sweeping changes.
These coalesced in a review of taxi licences in 2007 as well as a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers - a highly sensitive project kept hidden from the public. Cabinet documents show in May that year the review warned current policies were not well defined or communicated, that they suffered from ''poor transparency'', and that the ''growth in licence values [is] pushing up costs to industry and consumers''. The result, the documents say, is ''poor reliability and response times''.
If implemented, the reforms could have significantly improved the state's much-criticised taxi service but would have also slashed the value of the taxi plate market - worth up to $2.2 billion - and made a considerable dent in the assets of big taxi players, including Cabcharge, which at the time owned $44.9 million worth of taxi plates.
The review underwent several drafts and included detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of the reforms, while the policy statements were circulated to officials from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Treasury and to the office of the then minister, John Watkins.
The modelling showed demand for taxi licences from new players would soar as the price of those licences was reduced, that Treasury coffers would benefit from an increase in the stamp duty payable on the licences, and ultimately, that consumers would benefit with improved response times.
The planning went so far as to include discussion over the vexed issue of compensation to existing taxi plate owners, which was to form the core of an ''adjustment assistance'' program.
The NSW Taxi Council, which represents taxi plate owners and powerful networks, was asked for its input. It wanted a cap on the number of new licences, and suggested that all time-restricted licences should be made perpetual.

The Transport Minister, David Campbell, said taxi licensing was under consideration.
Mr Glasson, who was director-general between 2006 and 2009, left his $342,186 position with the Government to take up an appointment as the chief executive officer of ComfortDelGro Cabcharge.
The joint venture's principal interest in Sydney is in the private bus industry, which Mr Glasson also regulated in his former position. Cabcharge owns 49 per cent of the company.

Faruque Ahmed

Defunct cab body costing millions
LINTON BESSER, September 21, 2009
Reg Kermode: the Taxi Tsar

A Herald investigation reveals how Sydney's taxi king Reg Kermode reached the top, with help from the NSW Government.
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A GOVERNMENT-run taxi committee has spent more than $7.6 million since it was officially dissolved five years ago when it was found to be riddled with budget problems and conflict of interest.
The NSW Government abolished the committee in 2004 when a review by the Department of Premier and Cabinet found concerns over ''potential conflict of interest in tendering'' and ''no clear probity process''.
But government accounts released to the Herald under freedom of information show millions of dollars in taxi industry taxes collected by the transport department are still being spent by the non-existent committee.
It is a neat illustration of the Government's loss of regulatory control over the industry and follows Herald revelations that Cabcharge, run by Reg Kermode, along with the industry's other big players, continues to benefit from millions of dollars worth of free taxi plates issued to it by successive governments.

The Taxi Advisory Committee was one forum for the taxi networks to make their views known to government officials.
It was set up in 1998 as the NSW Ombudsman began an investigation of the transport department and as pressure was mounting to release more taxi plates before the Sydney Olympics.
But even more puzzling than the transport department's multi-million dollar black hole is the work the committee did when it was in session.
It spent more than $11.5 million to produce just nine reports to the Government.
These ranged from a survey of drivers in September 1999 to the trial of orange vacancy lights on taxi roofs.
A breakdown of the committee's expenses shows more than $6.5 million was spent between 2003 and 2008 on staffing.
''Management fees'' made up $1.7 million of its expenditure. A department spokeswoman, Jody Connor, said this money went to the Government for the administrative support lent to the committee by transport department officials.
''The Taxi Advisory Committee has not met since 2004,'' Ms Connor confirmed, although two-thirds of these management fees - about $1.2 million - have been racked up since then.
Another spokeswoman, Stacey Ryan, said taxi industry initiatives continued to be funded through the committee even though it no longer met. ''The management fee is to reimburse NSW Transport and Infrastructure for the costs involved in managing initiatives funded from the Taxi Advisory Committee and collecting the Taxi Advisory Committee fees.''
The committee originally comprised representatives from the NSW Taxi Council, the police, the Roads and Traffic Authority, Tourism NSW and disability groups, and was meant to discuss how best to regulate the industry on issues such as driver and passenger safety.
But it was soon disregarded by some as a joke, with no clear guidelines for the millions of dollars the committee would spend, and no adequate accounting and audit processes.
A review by the Department of Premier and Cabinet discovered ''no clear probity process for dealing with potential conflict of interest in tendering, evaluation and contractual arrangements''.
The investigation also found ''no clear, transparent process for assessing the potential value [to] the industry of projects sponsored by the committee'' and ''an absence of adequate budgeting, accounting and audit processes''.
There was also ''no clear tender assessment process or control of expenditure of the committee's funds''.
In 2004, another government body called the Taxi Taskforce was set up to examine reforms to the industry. Its draft findings urged the Government to dissolve the Taxi Advisory Committee and replace it with another body.
In its final year, only five people attended committee meetings: three industry figures and two representatives from the Transport Workers Union, which represents only about 1 per cent of the 22,500 drivers in NSW.


Inside the world of Mr Taxi
September 19, 2009

Reg Kermode ... the taxi king who has dominated the industry for almost three decades. Photo: Sahlan Hayes
The man behind the country's dominant taxi company has made some powerful friends over the years, writes Linton Besser.
BETWEEN 1982 and 1985, Neville Wran's government gave at least 92 plates to Sydney's taxi networks free-of-charge. Reg Kermode's companies got the largest share. Today Cabcharge owns 51 of these licences, worth $19.4 million.
Sixteen years later, in 2001, Wran received 250,000 Cabcharge shares after being appointed to the company's board. Those shares are now worth $1.5 million.
---------------------------------------------------------MULTIMEDIA: Find out how Reg Kermode got to the top, and read the documents which put him there.---------------------------------------------------------
Mr Wran and Mr Kermode's relationship originated in the 1980s, a decade that made Kermode's reputation as Sydney's taxi kingpin. He ran the city's biggest fleet of taxis and for many years he also ran the industry's mouthpiece, the NSW Taxi Council.
He also knew how to wield influence. He was a regular financial donor to the political class, but he charmed bureaucrats also. Former officials have told the Herald that each Christmas, gifts would arrive. "At the ministry, a big box of scotch would arrive that was given to us from the Taxi Council," one said. Others say his phone calls were "constant".
Now Cabcharge is Australia's dominant taxi company, with a string of taxi-related businesses including taxi networks, a voice-recognition business and even a smash-repair garage.
But its power is in its payment processing technology, which is found in 95 per cent of the country's taxis.
In June, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleged Cabcharge had been using its monopoly to bully others out of the taxi industry, a charge the company has announced it will defend.
The Herald has learnt that much of Mr Kermode's power was granted to his companies by successive state governments.
In 1981, the International Year of the Disabled, Mr Wran set up a committee to improve public transport for people in wheelchairs. One member of the committee remembers that Mr Kermode proffered an idea. Rather than putting elevators in train stations, he would provide a fleet of specially modified taxis, with fares to be subsidised by the State Government.
In 1982, the Wran government handed out 40 free plates on a short-term loan to taxi networks. They were designed to provide transport for late-night drinkers after the introduction of random breath testing.
The Taxi Council persuaded the government to allow the networks to keep them to offset the cost of providing the wheelchair-accessible taxis he had suggested. These taxis cost more to run and make less money than ordinary cabs.
In 1985, the Wran government released another 52 free plates. These were to expire after 12 months, but the networks were never forced to surrender them.
Each plate was to be paired with a separate wheelchair taxi, and they became known as Nexus plates.
Mr Kermode's company received the largest share of these Nexus licences under Mr Wran, and a further six in 1990 under the Greiner Coalition government.
The details of the scheme have remained shrouded in secrecy until now, including the revelation that Mr Kermode's taxi networks are the scheme's chief beneficiary.
Crucially, the plates were not allowed to be traded because they were technically on loan.
Confidential government memos, obtained by the Herald, warned that any such trade would create a major financial benefit for the networks.

Mr Kermode's Taxis Combined Services had the most to gain.
"Clearly, the key issue in this proposal is that the transfer of these licences will result in a windfall gain for the transferor, since the licence was originally issued at no charge. Any transfers of other Nexus licences will have the same result," a March 1994 memo to the then transport minister, the Liberal Bruce Baird, says. "It is also relevant, in this context, that the mere issue of these free licences created a windfall revenue for the taxi co-ops, which they have now enjoyed for some seven years and which they have little prospect of losing."
The memo alerted Baird to "concerns about the morality of windfall gains", but ultimately recommended that a proposed transfer be allowed.

Mr Baird, however, refused to do so, the memo shows, "particularly at a time when DoT [the Department of Transport] itself has taken concerns about trading in plates, in one circumstance, to ICAC [the Independent Commission Against Corruption]".
But a year later, in one of its first decisions after taking power, Bob Carr's government removed these restrictions and allowed these free plates to be bought and sold.
This decision effectively granted the networks an overnight windfall of more than $20 million – about half of it to Taxis Combined. The plates are now worth $35 million. Although this money was meant to subsidise wheelchair taxis, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found, in 2002, that Sydney had the lowest proportion of such cabs of all major capital cities.
Since late 2007, the networks have been in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act, because wheelchair taxis commonly take twice as long to arrive as general cabs.
The Herald has established that many of the state's wheelchair taxis have spent long periods off the road.
Frustrated at the lack of interest in wheelchair-modified vehicles from drivers, the Government has instead paid more than $1.4 million in incentives in 2008 to try to improve the service.
The Transport Department has estimated that, since 1990, the Nexus plates have generated about $20 million in revenue for the networks, with a large portion of this sum going to the four taxi networks owned by Cabcharge.
Between 1999 and 2007, Cabcharge donated more than $190,000 to the NSW branch of the Australian Labor Party, and the Taxi Council donated another $183,000.
These were declared and the Herald does not suggest a link between these donations and government decisions.
In 2004, a ministerial inquiry recommended the Nexus scheme be thoroughly audited by an independent investigation. In February 2007, the Ministry of Transport commissioned an audit of the scheme by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu – but the document was never made public.
The same company was hired in 1995 by the Department of Transport to provide advice about how to value the Nexus plates in preparation for allowing them to be traded.

Bob Carr's government removed the restrictions and allowed these free taxi licence plates to be bought and sold.

Further to
ICAC Submission, long long ago; a "phantom strike" was called at Granville Taxi Base, Sydney, NSW of the `lucky country'! The TWU trouble shooter named Robert Mayell who used to work around the adjacent area quickly went over there and negotiated a settlement! The `Pay-in' went down by five dollars!!

From cabbie to kingpin: Kermode's long and winding road
September 19, 2009

SYDNEY'S taxi king came from humble beginnings.

Reginald Lionel Kermode, the 82-year-old who presides over Australia's taxi industry, was born in Smithtown, a sleepy dairying village, on the NSW mid-north coast.
Today, Kermode heads the multibillion-dollar Cabcharge empire. His company stock is worth more than $7 million and over the past eight years he has received more than $9.4 million in wages.
It was at a mate's university graduation that Kermode made the pivotal decision to get behind the wheel of a taxi.
''The dean of the faculty of medicine got up and said that the one thing they didn't teach was psychology,'' he told the Herald in 2005.
''He recommended that instead, everyone at the ceremony should spend time driving a cab.'' … So I decided to give it a try.''
He transformed an industry dominated by returned servicemen and their widows.
Linton Besser and Damien Murphy

Do you like to consult with my endless communication with the department of
Graeme Samuel ?


Kermode's Kingdom
September 19, 2009

The list of companies Mr. Taxi Reg Kermode owns.
* Cabcharge Australia Limited* Cabcharge (Investments) Pty Ltd* ComfortDelGro Cabcharge Pty Ltd* Combined Communications Network Pty Ltd (formerly The De Luxe Cab Company Ltd)* Taxis Combined Services Pty Ltd* Enterprise Speech Recognition Pty Ltd* South Western Cabs (Radio Room) Pty Ltd* ABC Radio Taxi Pty Ltd* Arrow Taxi Services Ltd* Black Cabs Combined Pty Ltd* Newcastle Taxis Limited* Silver Service (Vic) Pty Ltd* Silver Service Taxis Pty Ltd* T.C.S. Communications (Vic) Pty Ltd* Taxis Australia Pty Ltd* Yellow Cabs of Sydney Pty Ltd* Yellow Cabs Victoria Pty Ltd* 135466 Pty Ltd* Carbodies Australia Pty Ltd

ICAC Submission provides a good picture of the industry. My initial submission and final submission to the AIRC contain lots of useful evidence to understand the industry. The NSW TWU's Crime against Taxi Drivers presents a picture of 1984 sell out by the NSW TWU. The Ghost and Gas – No Conspiracies adds some light on how did they pass the burden of gas and wash to bailee drivers' shoulder illegally! The AIRC transcript is like a "scary canary" trying to expose many crimes and corruption in front of seven judges under pressure.

One company landed a lucrative deal to handle government payments to drivers of wheelchair accessible cabs, writes Linton Besser.
THE country's most powerful taxi group, Cabcharge, is earning a commission from a government subsidy scheme designed to improve taxi services for the disabled.
While the national competition watchdog takes legal action against Cabcharge for trying to wipe out its competitors, the NSW Government is paying exclusive commissions to the company to process incentive payments to wheelchair taxi drivers.
The $8.47 incentive payment is made to drivers every time they accept a wheelchair job, under a program intended to improve the taxi industry's woeful performance in offering services to disabled passengers.
But Cabcharge is the only payment system accredited by the State Government to process the payments - and it has turned into a tidy earner for the company.
Between December 2007 and June 2008, the State Government paid more than $43,000 in these fees.
Cabcharge turned over more than $1.1 billion last year.
The exclusivity of the deal has helped Cabcharge cement its control over the industry during a period in which the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been investigating alleged anti-competitive conduct, which the company has announced it intends to defend.
"The Cabcharge administration fee paid by NSW Transport and Infrastructure is 3 per cent of the value of wheelchair accessible transport taxi dockets presented on a monthly basis," said Stacey Ryan, a spokeswoman for the department.
"There are no other administration fees paid to any other companies in relation to the Wheelchair Accessible Transport (WAT) Taxi Driver Incentive Scheme."
As wheelchair-related taxi jobs take more time than others and thereby reduce the overall earning potential of a cab, the industry persuaded the Government that incentives were needed to both pay for vehicle modifications and to entice drivers to do the work.
Since 1981, successive governments have signed off on tens of millions of dollars in incentive schemes to entice taxi networks to improve response times and the availability of taxis for wheelchair-bound passengers.

But in 2002, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found NSW had the lowest proportion of wheelchair-accessible taxis in its fleet of cabs compared to all major capital cities.
The following year, the Physical Disability Council of NSW wrote that the service quality for disabled taxi services was substandard. "It is common for PDCN to be told by wheelchair users that their taxi was between 45 minutes and one hour late for a booked appointment," the council said at the time.
The Taxi Council told the pricing regulator it would lift its game and that "by 2005, response times for WATS are to be equal to the general network standards for booking service response times".
But it still has not met the Government's guideline. This year the industry reported the number of wheelchair jobs picked up in under 15 minutes fell 6.7 percentage points short of the standard.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal reported this was an improvement on past figures, and put this down to the new incentive payment scheme which was "designed to improve reliability and response times for passengers requiring a wheelchair accessible taxi".
According to documents the Herald obtained under freedom of information laws, the Government spent $1.46 million on the WAT Driver Incentive scheme in 2007-08.

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Sydney Taxi Corruption to find out more about the taxi mafia and more?


How has the influence of Reg Kermode and the Taxi Council over State Government taxi policies affected you? Linton Besser reports.
Taxis are often late and sometimes don't show up at all. But under the reporting standards watered down by the Taxi Council and adopted by the Government, the woeful performance of Sydney's taxi networks looks almost perfect.
Nineteen years ago a new law was passed which meant that for the first time the taxi industry would be governed by a new set of performance standards. But the Government failed to draft and adopt permanent benchmarks until last year.
Until then the industry used "interim standards" to report their performance to the Government. But internal records seen by the Herald show that until April 2004 "there appears to have been no detailed analysis of the performance statistics provided by the networks".
When the permanent standards were introduced, the measures were significantly lowered, making it easy for networks to register a near-perfect performance. In one category, for example, the networks are asked to report on the percentage of passengers who book taxis over the telephone who are picked up within 15 minutes. The minimum standard is 85 per cent.
But instead of this being measured against the total number of bookings requested, as was required in the interim standards, the networks now only measure this against the number of bookings that actually take place (many bookings are referred to other networks).
The difference is stark.
In 2003, before the change, four out of the five Sydney taxi networks owned by Cabcharge failed miserably to meet this target, according to confidential department files: the ABC network averaged 66 per cent; Taxis Combined Services 82 per cent; Silver Service 68 per cent and Yellow Cabs 52 per cent.
Last year, under the new, softer standards, all of these networks performed glowingly. Every one of Cabcharge's five networks registered pick-ups within 15 minutes at well above the standard.
Drivers are the focus of most complaints about taxis. Passengers say they don't know their way around or are rude or that they refuse short fares. But few pause to ask why.
Drivers are poorly paid. They earn roughly $12.50 per hour and most work six 12-hour shifts a week. They are heavily exploited by taxi operators from whom they lease cabs, and many pay little or no income tax. They lack any real industrial representation. The Transport Workers Union represents less than 1.5 per cent of the state's drivers, and many of them are immigrants with poor English.
The problem is that drivers are considered self-employed contractors, not employees. Even though the industrial court has ruled taxi operators must fund entitlements such as holiday and sick pay, industry bigwigs have openly admitted that in 70 per cent of cases they do not.
But a 2003 government survey of drivers said things were actually far worse. It revealed 90 per cent of drivers did not get any holiday pay, and 95 per cent got no sick pay. Departmental correspondence from 2004 says: "The current agreement may allow operators to manipulate the system to avoid the payment of basic entitlements." But in 2002 the department decided not to force networks to comply with their responsibility to pay these entitlements.
"The Taxi & Hire Car Bureau just does not have the resources to take on such a major new responsibility," says a confidential memo seen by the Herald. It said it would defer the issue "till late 2003" but it has never been tackled by the State Government.
There are two industrial arrangements for drivers: they can split the cab's takings with the operator from which they lease the vehicle or they can pay a set rental, or "pay-in", for each shift.
But even though the second method leaves drivers about 20 per cent worse off, four out of five drivers work under this arrangement. And the majority have to pay for fuel, e-tags and the end-of-shift car wash. All this means that drivers are desperate to earn enough money to look after their family, or further their studies, or just get by.
Other internal documents show the Government has never made any attempt to monitor the performance of driver training schools. Crucially, the only approved driver training package in NSW is owned by the NSW Taxi Council. Attempts to promote competition in the training sector and establish an independent assessment centre never materialised following opposition from the Taxi Council.
If you think taxis are unreliable, try being in a wheelchair. Despite decades of incentive programs and millions of dollars in government subsidies and free taxi plates, the performance of Sydney's wheelchair-accessible taxi (WAT) fleet remains dire.
Although there is a requirement for 10 per cent of Sydney's fleet to be modified for wheelchair passengers, the taxi networks fall short. In 2004, only 7 per cent of Combined Communications Network's fleet were wheelchair accessible, and CCN has one of Sydney's largest wheelchair-accessible taxi fleets.
The number of wheelchair taxis on the road that year was somewhere between 5.2 per cent and 7.3 per cent of the fleet. Now it is higher at 9.3 per cent.
But the state's taxi service remains in breach of the federal Disability Discrimination Act, which required that by December 2007 "response times for accessible vehicles are to be the same as for other taxis".
In December last year, the average pick-up time for a standard taxi was 6.85 minutes. But passengers wanting a wheelchair taxi were forced to wait 18.62 minutes – more than twice as long.
In February this year, disabled passengers had to wait more than 10 minutes longer for a taxi, on average, than those who wanted a standard vehicle. But again the figures are likely to be far worse. These percentages are improved because they are actually the total performance of a wheelchair taxi, including all of the non-disabled jobs it undertakes.
The NSW Transport Department has failed the travelling public and has instead protected the interests of taxi-plate owners.
Importantly, the department has actively restricted the release of new taxi plates, contrary to what it says publicly. This has enriched licence holders at the expense of the public, which has needed a huge boost in the number of taxis for 20 years, according to a string of reports.
Although the department's website says it sells plates to prospective buyers, applicants are pushed away and told to approach the NSW Taxi Council or buy plates on the open market, according to internal files seen by the Herald.
"As a consequence, the supply of unrestricted taxi licences in NSW had continued to effectively be constrained to what was in existence pre-1990. This in turn has led to a general increase in the value of these licences," an internal memo says.
It has been known for some time that taxi networks have a "poor customer service ethos", the memo says. "It has been stated by the Taxi Council on more than one occasion that the taxi networks were only booking companies and that they were ultimately not responsible for service delivery.
"It appears to be the view of the industry that the accountability for service delivery ultimately resides with the driver. As such, the ministry firmly believes that this culture, combined with a culture among drivers to pick and choose jobs on the basis of personal financial benefit, is not in the public interest."


Who made it easier for anyone to write about the taxi mafia? Even some destroyed files could be traced by Faruque too.


Free Ride: Mr Taxi's $20 million windfall
September 19, 2009

MILLIONS of dollars worth of free taxi plates have been issued to companies run by the country's biggest taxi mogul, Reg Kermode, by successive state governments in a series of questionable deals that have helped to entrench their stranglehold on the industry.
A host of government decisions, uncovered for the first time, have directly benefited Mr Kermode's companies and owners of the other powerful taxi networks in NSW, but have left the state with a dysfunctional, much-criticised taxi service.
Mr Kermode's companies continue to benefit from the more than $19.4 million worth of taxi plates which were loaned, at no charge, by the Wran government - then given to Sydney's taxi networks by the Carr government.
Today, Mr Kermode is the undisputed king of a $3.5 billion industry, as executive chairman and chief executive of Cabcharge, as a key force behind the NSW Taxi Council and as director of Sydney's largest taxi company, Combined Communications Network.
A Herald investigation has exposed the extent of Mr Kermode's influence. Through his companies and the NSW Taxi Council he has befriended officials, given them whisky at Christmas, appointed them to well-paid jobs, and been a regular political donor.

The Taxi Council has also persuaded the government over the years to stymie reform that would have diluted the power of the industry's biggest players.

Between 1999 and 2007, Cabcharge donated more than $190,000 to the NSW branch of the Labor Party, and the Taxi Council donated another $183,000, although the Herald does not suggest these donations have any link to decisions taken by government.
And key Labor figures have benefited personally, including Neville Wran, who in 2000 was appointed to the Cabcharge board with a share package now worth $1.5 million.
There have been no fewer than eight reviews of the industry in the past decade, all of which recommended sweeping changes to boost competition and all bitterly opposed by the industry's leaders.
Much to the alarm of insiders, the Rees Government has maintained the cosy relationship. Crucially, it has continued to keep secret the list of taxi plate owners who trade their licences on a market worth as much as $2.2 billion.
In June the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched a court action against Cabcharge, accusing it of trying to wipe out competitors and deter potential rivals.
But the Herald has discovered that the NSW Government has helped Mr Kermode and Cabcharge reach their dominant industry position.
While many people struggle to pay the $380,000 needed to buy a single taxi plate, Sydney's powerful taxi networks have received almost 200 free taxi plates. And Mr Kermode's network has been the chief beneficiary.
Since October last year, the Herald has been fighting under Freedom of Information laws for access to a 2007 audit of one of these licence releases, but its application has been repeatedly denied. In mid-August the NSW Ombudsman launched an investigation after the Herald brought the matter to his attention.
As well as a series of inquiries that have been quashed by the Government, key public records have also been destroyed.
A government memo from 2004 says: ''Between 1988 and 1990, it is believed that numerous files and licence records were destroyed by the Government Records Repository/State Archives. The Ministry has no evidence at this time that would indicate that this destruction was deliberately carried out to conceal their contents. As a result, however, there are serious gaps in the Ministry's records.''
The Government also continues to ignore external reports which say there is an urgent need to improve conditions for drivers, increase competition and lift standards for passengers.
NSW remains in breach of a National Competition Council ruling that its taxi licensing regime be overhauled and the industry deregulated. In 2003, the Carr government was fined $12 million for ignoring this ruling.
In a letter sent to the Herald by Mr Kermode's solicitor, he said any suggestion that Mr Kermode had an ''improper relationship'' with the NSW Government or the Labor Party was false.