MELBOURNE METRO BUS CONTRACTS PROTEST HELD
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.