I write this email today in the sincere hope it does not end up in the junk mail. My name is xxxxxxx, I am a private hire car driver with about 12 years’ experience behind me. I keep my drivers certificate up to date , cars roadworthy is in place, still wear a mask while passengers are in the car ect,ect. The point I guess I am trying to make to you three gentlemen is I follow the rules. At the Airport, I have my landside drivers and Vehicle authorities in place. Again, I follow the rules. The rules put in place by the State government and the Airport Authority which, I understand to come under state and federal law.
My reason for writing this letter to all 3 of you today is to bring to your attention the issue of touting that occurs at the Airport every single day. You may be aware of this issue, but perhaps you, and others in authority may not be aware of how much of a problem it has been in the past and how much of a problem it has become since the easing of restrictions as we emerge from covid.
With the Airport getting busier, I, like many legal operators are enjoying busier times providing travel to and from the airport. It would be fair to say that with the problems the airlines are having retrieving passengers’ luggage, I am spending more time in the terminals waiting for my passengers. This allows me time to observe what is going on within the terminals.
There is a core group of 35 to 40 men who constantly tout out of the Airport. They do not hide what they do. They do not need to. I have seen Airport security and members of the Australian Federal Police walk straight by without batting an eye lid. What I don’t see is officers from the CPVV inside the terminal offering any attempt to stop what is an illegal activity from occurring on Airport grounds.
It concerns me to see so many people touting, sometimes passengers are being asked 3 or 4 times if they want a “taxi”. Sometimes the passengers are getting a little frustrated with the touts and words are exchanged.
I have noticed there seems to be an elevation in aggression from the touts toward passengers that refuse their advances, also an elevation in aggression between the legal operators and the touts. This was evident on Sunday the 11th September where I am aware of 2 incidents between legal operators and the touts, one being in front of the Qantas terminal where heated words were exchanged and the police attended. The other in the carpark where heated words were exchanged.
This is what concerns me more than anything as, sometimes heated words often lead to a more violent outcome, and is the reason I have decided to write to you directly.
Gentlemen, I ask you directly,
Why is the Government so reluctant to tackle the issue of an illegal activity occurring on Airport grounds?
Why are the Australian Federal Police working at the Airport allowing an illegal activity to occur on Airport grounds?
Why are the officers of the Commercial Passengers Vehicles Victoria (cpvv) reluctant to stop an illegal activity happening on Airport grounds.
When was the last time anyone was fined for touting at the Airport.
In my 12 years of driving, I have only been stopped once by cpvv inspectors. They were more interested in my knowledge of the amount of alcohol in my hand sanitiser than anything else.
Gentlemen, the new name of the authority is Safe transport Victoria. The touts go against everything “safe” about our industry. Some do not have commercial passenger licences, let alone any form of insurances. I have seen one of their cars with tyres so bald I could see the metal bands under the rubber. I guess that must have been missed on that year’s roadworthy.
The expenses to my business to stay compliant are many, Asic registration, cpv drivers’ licence, public liability insurance, landside driver and vehicle passes, yearly roadworthy certificate on my car. These expenses are real. I doubt that any of the touts are going to incur any of these expenses.
Mr Carroll, I know you have only just taken over the transport ministry, but I ask you directly, What are you going to do to stop this illegal activity occurring within your portfolio?
Mr Barton, you have championed this cause over the last few years. This letter shows how far the government and the industry has to go on this matter.
Mr McGhie, I guess you are wondering why you are getting this letter. I live in Melton, have done for 12 years.
I have also written a very similar letter to Ms Argus, at Melbourne Airport.
Rods Response to this email and copied in Minister Carroll, Mr Mcghie and the CEO of TSV.
Thank you for taking the time to detail your concerns so eloquently.
I have been severely frustrated by the lack of action taken by the Andrews Government to address this illegal and aggressive activity.
After I was successful making touting illegal in the early part of this term, I naively thought the regulator would do their job. How foolish was I?
You will be familiar with my view, that people who abide by the law must be protected from those who break it.
I cannot tell you how many times I have contacted the Minister directly and their office. I have raised this directly with the regulator and Melbourne Airport. I have raised this in Parliament. There is no doubt, they understand the consequences of touting but choose to do nothing.
This is a matter of fairness and safety.
I have previously been contacted by Hume police, who have sought to conduct undercover work at the airport. It seems that everybody understands the issue, but no one is accepting responsibility.
We all want to bring more visitors to our state. It is in everyone’s best interest. I note that Destination Greater Victoria began its largest ever campaign this year, spending $2.2 million attracting tourists. It is beyond belief that we still allow these touters to aggressively harass visitors on arrival in Melbourne. It undermines all the good work we do in our tourism sector.
I am sure you would be interested to know that I have had Ministers and other members of parliament come to me and complain about being touted at Melbourne airport.
You might also be interested to know that I had someone attempt to tout me outside the Sofitel more recently. They certainly regretted that decision when they realised who I was.
The Government must decide whether they continue to let the wolves roam or take the necessary action to protect passengers and law-abiding small business operators.
Thank you again for providing your first-hand experience in the industry. Those making decisions must understand the consequences of their actions (or in this case, lack of action).