Tougher uber laws in Queensland aim to level playing field for taxi industry and ride-booking services
25 May, ABC News
Ride booking services like Uber will now have to be licensed and pay annual licence fees in Queensland after new laws were passed in State Parliament on Wednesday night.
Taxi Council of Queensland CEO Benjamin Wash told ABC Radio Brisbane said the legislation still did not level the playing field.
"In fact, the legislation enshrines a different cost structure for what is essentially the same service," he said.
"It's still strangers picking people up and dropping them off.
"The fact that there's no cameras and there's no minimum conditions for personalised transport drivers or people in booked hire services, it beggar's belief that the Government's dropped the ball so badly on this."
He said it was widely known that people in booked-hire services and ride-sharing around the world want to be able to run a business with no regulation and no cost structures.
"It's certainly nothing new, but there's no element in the community or society where a business can just run with impunity, cutting corners, cutting costs, and not having any regulatory frameworks that are meaningful to define their business," he said.
Ride Sharing Drivers Association of Australia spokesman Les Johnson said it had found there was only a 4 per cent retention rate of drivers after 12 months, with 80 per cent not earning enough money.
"There's other expenses coming into it," he said.
"I think that with a lot of the fees and charges the Government has looked at over a period of time — many which the association has argued against — they're just forcing the cost of entry into the industry up and up and up when the returns are not there.
"If drivers are up for all these extra charges and the rate of return is below what is sustainable, then I think people will pull out."
By AAP, May 25 2017
Queensland Uber drivers will need to obtain a new licence and have their vehicles inspected annually, but will not be forced to install security cameras under new laws passed on Wednesday night.
The Palaszczuk government passed its ride-sharing bill overnight with the support of the Liberal National Party opposition, though crossbench MP Robbie Katter failed in his bid to have several amendments added to the bill.
The Mount Isa MP had sought to have security cameras installed in all ride-sharing vehicles, as well as commercial-grade GPS and duress alarms.
The government had ultimately followed public opinion instead of being a "strict parent" in dealing with disruptive new services, he told ABC Radio on Thursday.
But Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said there were a range of measures within the legislation designed to ensure public safety, and noted ride-sharing services did not follow an "anonymous model" compared to taxis.
He said the laws, which include requiring drivers to obtain a new ridesharing licence annually, will deliver a fairer playing field while also reinforcing the value of existing licences.
"Taxis will retain exclusive rights to rank and hail services and significant penalties - including possible driver licence suspension - will be imposed on those who infringe these," Mr Bailey said.
Compliance officers would soon be deployed to ensure the tightened rules are followed, while the disability portion of the market has also been reserved for taxis only, he told ABC Radio.
The minister conceded bringing the state's laws into line with fast-moving digital developments had been "a very difficult" and sometimes "painful" process for those involved.
But Taxi Council of Queensland chief executive Benjamin Wash said the government had shown a "lack of knowledge and foresight" by passing the laws.
"I hope the premier and government are happy that they have compromised the wellbeing and safety of Queenslanders by ensuring booked hire services are under no obligation to implement any safety and service standards," he said.
The industry body has pledged to press the issue at the next state election.
© AAP 2017
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