On Friday 18 May, Neos Kosmos reported on Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan’s claims that she was threatened over taxi reforms.
Throughout the reform process, Ms Allan revealed in a letter addressed to Greek Community of Melbourne president Bill Papastergiadis, that she had been consulting with a number of taxi licence holders, including representatives of the Greek community, but that some individuals and organisations had “made or incited threats of violence and vile abuse” against her and her family, and so would not be engaging further with them.
In a letter to Neos Kosmos addressing Ms Allan’s claims, Liberal upper house MP David Davis interpreting her decision to step back from further engagement as “disengagement from and dismissal of a great number of honest hard-working taxi families”.
This week the matter was raised in parliament amid a Public Accounts and Estimate Committee hearing into the state budget on Wednesday.
Ms Allan accused the Coalition of fuelling the threats that were made against her and her family, and was quick to point out that Mr Davis didn’t take the opportunity in his letter to Neos Kosmos to condemn the abuse.
“What you are doing is inciting vicious attacks against me and my family and I am quite happy to read into the record where people have been putting on Facebook that they are surprised that I haven’t been killed by now,” Ms Allan said.
The online abuse in question has been made through a Facebook page run by Victorian Taxi and Hire Car Families, made up of former taxi and hire car licence owners and their families that have been impacted by the reforms in response to legalising ride-sharing service Uber.
Labor backbencher and committee member Steve Dimopoulos revealed that he has also been the target of personal abuse from taxi licence owners.
He backed up Ms Allan’s claims by reading out examples addressed to the Premier and Public Transport Minister.
“Referring to the Premier, ‘the only time I would like him is with three bullets in his head and six feet under’,” Mr Dimopoulos read.
“’The scarf around your neck’, referring to a picture of you minister [Ms Allan], ‘may prove to be quite useful’.”
Outside the parliament, Mr Davis addressed the claims made against him, stating that he was in no way excusing the online threats, and that Ms Allan and the other MPs were simply trying to turn the attention from the real issue.
“No public official supports the extreme end of social media but the claims by the minister are simply a deflection from the fact that she has not managed her portfolio properly,” he said.