LETTER TO THE EDITOR .
We refer to the recent brutal slaying of taxi driver Peter Coe and the flurry of media activity since. Since the murder, it appears that State Transport Minister, Bill Baxter’s media office has been working in overdrive in a bid to cover-up for his inaction over taxi violence for some time. It is also notable that he refused to attend the meeting of over 300 rank and file taxi drivers on Monday February 6th which was specifically convened to discuss the violence against taxi drivers in Victoria.
Bill Baxter’s announcement that he will make duress alarms and boot releases mandatory falls far short of taxi driver’s demands and is best described as a political stunt for damage control.
There appears to have been a scarcity of reports in the media as to what the taxi drivers themselves wanted to combat the growing problem of violence against them. It is for this reason that we ask your paper to balance it’s reporting and publish this letter with the resolutions passed by an overwhelming majority of drivers at Monday’s meeting.
The resolutions passed were as follows:-
1/ The immediate reversal of current Police practice of not taking action against those who rob and bash taxi drivers.
2/ Immediate introduction of a policy that Police must prosecute anyone who avoids paying taxi fares, assaults or robs a taxi driver, or who in any other way harasses a taxi driver.
3/ The IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL of Terry O’Keefe (Head of Victorian Taxi Directorate) and all others in the Victorian Taxi Directorate who were formerly employed by Vicroads.
4/ A 150 per cent tax write-off for all monies spent by taxi owners on taxi safety equipment such as barriers, alarms and so on.
5/ Immediate introduction of some sort of shields to protect taxi drivers who want shields.
All but the fifth resolution were passed unanimously.
When the third resolution for Mr. O’Keefe’s removal was put to the meeting there was a standing ovation and cheering. Taxi drivers believe that their industry should be run by someone with recent taxi driving experience and not a career bureaucrat. Furthermore the appointment of Mr. O’Keefe as former licensing manager at Vicroads went directly against the recommendations of the all-party Crime Prevention Committee Report of 1993, which stated that Vicroads people should not run the taxi industry as they were not fit and proper to do so. The report documented corruption in the department with relation to taxis.
We also refer to a petition by over 700 taxi drivers in 1991, which called for similar measures to those above. Furthermore the introduction of the above resolutions will not only cost the government nothing (in the immediate term), but save money in the long term. The time to act is now - not after the next murder.
RAYMOND HOSER and over 200 other taxi drivers(names, addresses and signatures provided),
PO BOX 599,
DONCASTER, VIC, 3108.