ABC (Australia) - - NEWS -

AN ES­TI­MATED 200 pro­test­ers rep­re­sent­ing hun­dreds of state-wide bus op­er­a­tors and or­gan­i­sa­tions gath­ered out­side on the Vic­to­rian Par­lia­ment House steps re­cently to de­cry the “rep­re­hen­si­ble” Mel­bourne Metro Bus con­tracts cur­rently un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion and the State La­bor Gov­ern­ment’s plans to na­tion­alise the pri­vate metropoli­tan bus net­work, ac­cord­ing to or­gan­is­ers.

BusVic ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Chris Lowe de­liv­ered an im­pas­sioned speech to those as­sem­bled, la­belling the con­tracts be­ing of­fered as, “rep­re­hen­si­ble”, “un­con­scionable” and “anti- small busi­ness” among a raft of other terms.

Ul­ti­mately, his “anti-fam­ily busi­ness” as­ser­tion seemed to res­onate strongly with lis­ten­ers, it’s claimed.

“Min­is­ter Al­lan has told nine small-to-medium fam­ily busi­ness bus own­ers out of the 13 that op­er­ate in Mel­bourne that the Gov­ern­ment will give them a new con­tract or li­cense to op­er­ate only if they agree to trans­fer their new ve­hi­cles, non-man­age­rial staff and know-how ( in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty) to the Gov­ern­ment, or their nom­i­nee at the end of the new five- and seven-year con­tract terms. Or that they agree to trans­fer all their

“We think this is … bad for the econ­omy. This is bad for the trav­el­ling pub­lic”

ve­hi­cles, all their de­pots, all their non-man­age­rial staff and know-how to the Gov­ern­ment, or their nom­i­nee, at the end of the 10-year con­tract term.

“Well Min­is­ter Al­lan, we think this is … bad for the econ­omy. This is bad for the trav­el­ling pub­lic,” he said.

“Why would a fam­ily busi­ness work bloody hard, day in, day out, to build up a busi­ness and as­sets over gen­er­a­tions and pre­pare for those as­sets to one day suc­ceed to the next gen­er­a­tion of their fam­ily, then with no say in the mat­ter agree to sell their as­sets to the Gov­ern­ment or their nom­i­nee at a non-mar­ket price?” he cham­pi­oned.

“These busi­nesses are about con­tin­u­ance. If they do wish to exit, they will do so when ‘they’ de­cide, not when the Gov­ern­ment de­cides,” he added.

Lowe con­tin­ued that even the Vic­to­rian Trans­port Work­ers Union ( TWU) doesn’t want the Gov­ern­ment to oblige fam­ily op­er­a­tors to trans­fer some or all of their as­sets.

The protest comes at a time The Age news­pa­per re­ports – un­der the cat­e­gory of Trans­port and the “Losers” – that: “Bus users. Metropoli­tan bus punc­tu­al­ity fell be­low tar­get last year, and the num­ber of re­gional pas­sen­gers declining to 12.6 mil­lion, down from a tar­get of 15 mil­lion.”

ABC mag­a­zine con­tacted Min­ster Al­lan’s of­fice for com­ment on the is­sue.

Above: BusVic ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Chris Lowe ad­dress­ing the crowd at Vic­to­rian Par­lia­ment House.

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