Anti Hoser Taxi laws used to put OTHER CABBIES out of business.
23 July 2003
By Raymond Hoser
Following publication of The Hoser Files in mid 1995, the Victorian Taxi Directorate under the management of the corrupt Terry O'Keefe cancelled Raymond Hoser's taxi driving licence (then known as a DC, or "driving certificate").
Following a series of legal battles it became clear that Raymond was able to seek a Supreme Court injunction to return the licence and/or have a Minister for transport overrule O'Keefe and direct that a licence be issued.
This is in fact what happened in 1991 when O'Keefe then abused his position to revoke Hoser's taxi driving certificate two years earlier and had then refused to re-instate it.
The then Minister in charge, Peter Spyker intervened and directed a re-issue of the licence, much to O'Keefe's disgust.
Fearing a change of government in the late 1990's, O'Keefe got his political masters to rush through new on-the-spot fines for taxi drivers.
Penalties for routine offences like, "out of uniform", "touting", "unroadworthy car", "unattended cab" and the like were upped from just $40 to $5,000.
Just so you know, in Victoria and other states, touting is defined by authorities as when a taxi driver speaks to a person outside of the taxi. "Unattended cab" is defined as when a driver is more than a meter (three feet) from a taxi. Going to the toilet is not allowed under their interpretation of the law and over the years hundreds of cabbies have been fined for leaving their cabs to do just that.
With a fine of just $40, most cabbies copped this sort of harassment on the chin as part of the hazards of driving. Bearing in mind that a fine like this would be incurred once every year or so for most drivers, it was in effect treated as yet another charge or levy on cabbies, imposed by overzealous and nazi-like officials.
When the new $5,000 on-the-spot fines were introduced, O'Keefe and his successor, Steve Stanko went to pains to make it clear that the target of these fines was Raymond Hoser and that the laws were brought in to keep him out of the taxi industry and not to harass other cabbies.
After all, half a dozen such fines resulting in a month or two's following of Hoser in his cab would effectively send him broke and force him to leave the taxi game.
When Hoser (myself) announced that I would instead drive in New South Wales, the then NSW transport Minister Carl Scully took heed of his Victorian counterparts wishes and rushed through a similar set of laws and fines.
The tactic worked as I haven't driven a taxi in either state since.
But as with all crazy and punitive laws that are put on the books, they are sooner or later invoked against innocent people who were never the intended target.
One such person was Sydney cabbie known in the game as "Taxi-man Tony". Himself and a dozen other cabbies in mid 2003 got busted at Sydney airport for accepting hirings away from the designated taxi stands. You see at Sydney airport, it's illegal to pick up passengers away from the taxi stands.
These cabbies were all hit with $5,000 on-the-spot fines, that literally sent them broke. This much and that's about all was reported in the Sydney tabloid papers.
To make things worse, it turned out that the people who actually hired the taxis were planted stooges from the Department of Transport (DoT).
Then there were the cabbies who refused to pick up the DoT people because they were not standing at the designated ranks. Did they escape the $5,000 fines?
You see one of the other myriad rules governing taxis is that it is illegal to refuse a hiring. So they got pinged for that one instead.
In other words, every single cabbie targeted was fined, regardless of what they did.
Whatever they did was in effect judged illegal.
The drivers have complained of entrapment, but the DoT people have replied that they don't care as only uneducated and poverty-stricken fools drive taxis anyway and that it served them right for being cabbies.
A similar scam happened at Melbourne airport, the result being a mass-exodus of drivers from taxi driving in Sydney and Melbourne.
In a classic case of asking what came first, the chicken or the egg, drivers in Sydney are now wondering whether they should blame Raymond Hoser for stating that he intended driving again in Sydney, or the transport officials who rushed through their new laws and fines in order to keep him out.
By the way, it's likely that you'll get a bigger penalty as a cabbie for accepting a hiring at the airport away from the rank, than would a rapist, pedophile or murderer!
Hoser, R. T. 2000. Taxi:Indecent Exposures, Kotabi Publishing, Victoria.
Hoser, R. T. 2000. Taxi-2:More Indecent Exposures, Kotabi Publishing, Victoria.
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