The problem with Uber

Jock Webb writes: Re. “The ACT govt welcomes Uber, but with caveats” (yesterday). The NSW Roads and Maritime Services has correctly given Uber a whack over the ears. It is an offence in NSW to use a privately registered vehicle for profit. It is also not permitted to hire one out or use it as a public passenger vehicle. This results in lower premiums for CTP insurance. I rather imagine any person injured in an Uber accident would be uninsured and the driver likely to face serious legal problems. While I am no fan of the gouging NSW taxi owners (not the drivers as such), it is scandalous that Uber can charge fees without paying for the appropriate safety backup. It is knowingly breaking the law and putting people at risk.

New registration procedures might well solve the problem, and hopefully that will come. Perhaps we should congratulate the ACT. which has a very unreliable taxi service these days according to my daughter ,who lives there. However,  Uber drivers should not be allowed to ride on the risk and neither should the company itself.

Steve Callachor writes: The problems in the taxi industry don’t come from Uber. They are structural, and the changes have gradually come in over 40 years or more.

In the 1960s when the co-operatively owned radio networks were sprouting, a typical taxi plate owner had invested the equivalent of a suburban house in purchasing a taxi plate (not to be confused with licence) or won the right in a ballot as new taxi plates were released  He then purchased a vehicle of approved design and fitted a two-way radio for bookings (voluntary at this stage). Generally the owner was a driver himself and would normally drive the day shift 0500 to 1530 himself, and then let the taxi to some hapless Baillee driver to stay out as long as he liked until 0500 the next day. The driver paid for petrol and kept 40% of the takings. The taxi supported two families.

Forward to today, the taxi plate still costs as much as a house, is leased out to a second party for $1000 a week who puts it on a car on leases the whole unit for another $1000 a week.  The hapless driver then pays up to $100 a shift to drive the thing trying then to make enough to live on.

Now the taxi has to support  three families not two as in bygone times, so one doesn’t need to be a genius to see why it’s broken — the money isn’t there!

Violence isn’t gendered

John Richardson writes: Re. “Silver-tongued Malcolm’s govt is complicit in violence against women” (yesterday). Shakira Hussein and Miranda Devine would appear to have at least one thing in common, which is a willingness to indulge the wedge technique practised by our politicians against all sections of society when dealing with just about every issue.

I certainly have no truck with violence against women — by men or women; nor men — by men or women; nor children — by men, women or other children. But surely the real issue is the prevalence of violence per se in our society, rather than just violence evident in one particular demographic?

Shakira Hussein wonders how we can realise Malcolm Turnbull’s stated aspiration for Australia to become known as a country that respects women, when our government “routinely punishes the most vulnerable women for the crime of their vulnerability”.

Surely the larger question we must face in the shadow of Manus Island, Nauru and the crimes visited on our own indigenous people is how we can hope to become known as a country that simply respects people?

If we as a nation can’t muster the national character necessary to call out the systemic abuse being perpetrated against the most helpless and least powerful in our so-called “detention centres”, does anyone really think we are capable of respecting each other?

Australia once had a proud tradition of standing-up for the underdog and defending those who could not defend themselves.

In the past 50 years our tolerance and kindness has largely been transformed into intolerance and selfishness in our drive for material success, while our political princes and their ignorant and bigoted urgers succeed only helping us to bring shame on ourselves.

Peter Fray

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