This monthís issue of the main Victorian Taxi Industry magazine, Taxi Call, has been withdrawn from the streets following disapproval by the Kennett State government.
The Magazine, which has now been published for some time has never previously aroused the ire of the State government. The 2,500 copy print run was released about a week ago through major taxi depots and other industry related places. Within days, the Victorian Taxi Directorate (VTD) arranged for remaining copies to be seized and/or taken out of circulation. However there have been no legal actions of injunctions.
The articles that caused the government concern was one which was highly critical of the Kennett governmentís running of the Victorian taxi industry, in particular safety related matters. The major article, by Taxi Driverís League president, Raymond Hoser pointed out that less than a month prior to the slaying of driver Peter Coe, himself and other drivers had unsuccessfully attempted to meet with Kennett and Taxi Directorate bosses to discuss safety matters. They were told that neither were concerned about these things. A series of letters simultaneously published in papers and taxi industry magazines, less than a month prior to Coeís death, also failed to entice Kennett or Taxi Directorate officers to meet drivers to discuss safety concerns.
This monthís Taxi Call magazine noted that in spite of a string of media stunts by Kennett and Taxi Directorate officials, the reality is that based on their actions, neither are genuinely concerned about taxi driverís safety and related matters. The article itself, which was based entirely on material already on the public record further noted how the Kennett/VTD media machine attempted to hide taxi driverís concerns after the brutal killing of Peter Coe.
A further letter published in the magazine and signed by over 200 rank and file taxi drivers noted how four resolutions passed unanimously by a mass meeting of several hundred taxi drivers was effectively blocked from being reported in the media. The article also referred to the State Governmentís failure to implement recommendations of itís own Crime Prevention Committee Report into the taxi industry, particularly with regards to earlier corruption among officials in Vicroads who had been in charge of the taxi industry and those who remain in control.
The Taxi Driverís League regards the effective banning of their industry magazine as a direct attack on their freedom of speech. This action is also believed to be illegal. Equally disturbing is how the large numbers of advertisers, (garages, taxi companies, equipment sellers and others), many of whom are struggling small businesses, have been effectively robbed of their opportunity to sell products. As a result of the "banning" of Taxi Call some of these businesses may in fact go out of business. The Taxi Driverís League (representing hundreds of taxi drivers) notes that this latest action goes against all Kennettís public pronouncements about his concern for small business. The publisher of the Magazine, the Magazine Publishing Company (based in Queensland), has been publishing for the Victorian Taxi Industry for some years. There is now a possibility that their assistanceís to the Victorian taxi industry may cease due the ongoing risk of further "politically incorrectí publications being banned. The Taxi Driverís League regards this censorship as unacceptable and hope that it is reported as widely as possible.