CHAPTER 6 The shape of things to come

It is possible to anticipate embryonic issues and opportunities before they emerge

In 2011 the Victorian State Government announced a major inquiry into the taxi industry, to be chaired by Professor Allan Fels. The inquiry investigated all aspects of the industry and recommended a set of reforms focusing on achieving better outcomes for the public.

The subsequent report, released in November 2012, has come under criticism because not once in its 240 pages is the word Uber mentioned, yet within three years Uber would seem to be the only word on the minds of all those involved with the industry. The easy assessment was that the report was worthless because it didn’t warn the industry of its imminent disruption.

I hold a different view. In fact, on page one Professor Fels is explicit in his warnings about the future of the industry. So, for those of you who don’t have the time to digest all 240 pages, let me save you the effort by directing your attention to the foreword:

The inquiry could have gone much further in its approach to removing restrictions on taxi and hire car licences. In effect, Victoria’s taxi industry has operated for years as a ‘closed shop’, with a small number of licence holders protected from the effects of competition at the expense of consumers, taxi operators and drivers (who continue to experience low remuneration, poor work conditions and a risky work environment). The inquiry found no public interest for allowing ...

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