‘Incompetent, dishonest’: Taxi industry at war over ‘slurs’
The peak body for the state's beleaguered taxi industry has sued a rival taxi licence owners group alleging it defamed them by falsely labelling them incompetent and dishonest in Facebook posts and emails to licence owners.
The Taxi Council of Queensland (council) has sued the Queensland Taxi Owners Association (association) and boss Paul Anthony Scaini in the District Court in Brisbane over four publications made between April and August last year.
The council alleges in court documents Mr Scaini was referring to the council when he said they "presided over the biggest failures and losses ever experienced by the Qld taxi industry" on Facebook on August 13 last year.
Mr Scaini did not refer to the council by name but the council alleges it would have been obvious to taxi licence holders reading the post that he was referring to the council.
The council, which represents drivers, licence owners, operators and booking companies, has not specified the damages it is seeking.
It has asked the court to ban Mr Scaini and the association from publishing further defamatory comments about it.
The council alleges that by using the word "presided" in his post, Mr Scaini meant that the council "had authority to influence government decisions and had failed to act in the interests of industry participants".
The same day Mr Scaini emailed taxi licence owners and others in the taxi industry questioning whether the state government's $23 million assistance scheme to drivers during the pandemic would be taxable.
The council alleges Mr Scaini's post was defamatory because he meant the council had published inaccurate or incorrect information about the tax status of the payment to its members in the weekly news section of the council's website.
Mr Scaini did not directly refer to the council in his email, instead referring to "some other industry participants" which the council alleges is a thinly-veiled reference to the council.
The council is also suing Mr Scaini and the association over Mr Scaini's email to licence owners on June 20.
The council alleges in court documents when he referred to "crumbs being sent your way", the council says he was implying that the council was satisfied with obtaining "crumbs" of compensation for its taxi licence holding members, and was working against the interests of its member taxi service licence holders.
The council has also sued over Mr Scaini's Facebook post to the Queensland Taxi Facebook page on April 22, where he again said an industry "body" had "presided over the biggest losses ever suffered by the industry".
The council alleges the post would have been understood by taxi industry members to mean that the council was incompetent, reckless, untrustworthy and unreliable.
Mr Scaini's post was in response to a post by Greg Collins who stated that government lobbying had "only become a clusterf***" because the taxi industry had splintered and failed to unite.
"When you are dealing with the government you only ask for one thing at a time because their (SIC) not the brightest of buttons", Mr Collins wrote, court documents state.
The council has not sued Mr Collins over his post.
Mr Scaini and the association have not yet filed a defence to the claim.
Speaking outside of court to The Courier-Mail, Mr Scaini said he would defend the lawsuit, adding that the industry's earnings had been smashed by ride-share services and it should be working together rather than engaging in fights over "innocuous" statements.
"It is all a storm in a teacup," Mr Scaini said.
No court date has been set for hearing.
Originally published as 'Incompetent, dishonest': Taxi industry at war over 'slurs'