Addressing some unfinished business for the taxi and car hire industry will be a priority for newly elected Transport Matters Party leader and member for eastern metropolitan region Rod Barton.
In his maiden speech to the legislative council Mr Barton expressed the devastation of many thousands of families who faced the loss of their live savings when the taxi and car hire industry was deregulated on 9 August 2017.
“The devastation that has been wrecked onto the industry, and the duty to correct it, is a weight I carry into this place,” said Mr Barton.
“In the excitement of new technology we forgot the years of hard work, sweat and tears to build the regulations needed to bring Victoria’s taxi industry to a safe and reliable standard.
Mr Barton described the personal losses he and his family faced following the arrival of Uber in Victoria and the following deregulation of the industry.
“Uber’s illegal entry slashed my income. We were unable to hang onto our family farm and were forced to sell.
“This was out retirement home. I worked 40 years to do this and had spent years renovating the old farm house and the 40 acre farm.
Mr Barton said winning a seat in the legislative council was a sign of hope for many in the taxi and car hire industry who felt their voices weren’t heard and that provisions to compensate them following deregulation weren’t fair.
“I didn’t apply to the fairness fund because I had no confidence in the process. For many accessing that fund seemed a pipe dream and our views were vindicated when the ombudsman’s report was released on the roll out of the fund.
“This is hardly a level playing field,” he said.
From the ashes of deregulation a new political party was formed – Transport Matters – and Mr Barton told parliament he was proud to be representing party and industry members who come from all backgrounds.
“I will bring a specific, unrelenting and unflinching attention to the issues of transport within Victoria,” he said.
“Transport is essential to our economy, our quality of life and our freedoms of choice.”