• THE COURIER-MAIL
• MAY 26, 2015 12:00AM
Uber threatens legal action against taxes
UBER has slammed the Palaszczuk Government for siding with the taxi industry over passengers, saying it could create 4000 new jobs in a year if the Government would only let it.
In a 44-page document delivered to every state MP, the company says the Government lacks courage to take on the protected taxi monopoly, forcing people to “accept poor service without any prospect of relief”.
“The lack of courage or willingness to tackle the perceived political power of the taxi industry, its lobby groups and a small group of wealthy taxi-plate investors must be investigated,” it says.
More than 100,000 people have taken an Uber trip and 2000 drivers have signed up since the company’s launch in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast a year ago.
Passengers use a mobile app to request a car, track it, and pay automatically through their account when they’re dropped off. There is no meter, cars can’t be flagged or booked in advance and cash is not accepted, with drivers using their own personal cars.
Uber says the Government has refused to discuss Queensland’s Taxi Strategic Plan, which expires this year. Pic: Tara Croser.
Despite Queensland’s Taxi Strategic Plan expiring this year, Uber says the Department of Transport and Main Roads has so far refused to discuss reform, are fining its drivers and clearly want it to close down.
“Axing the jobs of 2000 Queenslanders and denying a further 4000 people a job over the next 12 months is not a ¬rational approach to policy making,” the submission says.
Uber’s director of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, Brad Kitschke, said they wanted to create jobs.
“All we’re asking for is permission,” he said.
“The regulatory framework is supposed to be there to protect consumers, not to protect an incumbent industry and cement a monopoly.
“Uber would not be popular if people didn’t want it.”
The submission lays out a proposal for regulation to cover rideshare apps, with Uber rejecting the Government’s position that its drivers are covered by taxi laws.
“It’s like saying public transport is competing with taxi ¬services and therefore need the same regulatory treatment,” he said.
It suggests drivers apply for a government permit, pay an annual fee, be licenced under reasonable terms, have mandatory insurance, face vehicle checks and be banned from drugs, alcohol and discriminating against passengers.
The submission follows comments by Treasurer Joe Hockey last week when he urged state governments to look at potentially outdated regulation around taxis in light of ridesharing.
Australian Competition and Consumer head Rod Simms has also previously urged governments to drop expensive taxi regulation, saying it is not the job of governments to protect established industries.
But Taxi Council chief Benjamin Wash said anyone wanting to enter the market should meet the current requirements.
— additional reporting by Tom Snowdon