The following can be attributed to Benjamin Wash, chief executive officer of Taxi Council Queensland.
Taxi Council Queensland has never called for uber to be banned. We have simply called for a level playing field that ensures anyone operating a taxi service plays by the same rules and abides by the law. If legislation needs to be changed so be it, however in the meantime Taxi Council Queensland expects existing regulations to be enforced and the Queensland Government to uphold the law and ensure that illegal taxi services – which currently includes uber – do not operate.
It should also be noted that it is premature to say that uber will be made legal in Tasmania, or indeed the ACT. Both governments have made it clear that any new laws will also aim to protect consumers by imposing key standards and safeguards applicable to traditional industries. The Tasmanian Premier has been quoted as saying, “The Government believes that it’s the government’s role to provide a regulatory framework that’s fair and that provides necessary protections…”. We point out that we do not know what regulations will be enforced by the Tasmanian Government, but we do know that across the world, uber has blatantly refused to meet even minimum safety standards and has rejected any sort of regulatory framework. With their record of non-compliance and flouting of laws, it is doubtful that uber will agree to new legislation in Tasmania, the ACT or anywhere else. We expect them to thumb their nose at new legislation just like they do now, which means that despite new legislation that should make their operations legal, they will still be operating illegally.
uber is a law-breaking foreign bully that pays no taxes in Australia and wants to create a monopoly for themselves at the expense of law-abiding small business operators. State Governments should be aware of this before trying to pander to them. New technology should be embraced, but not at the expense of customer safety and regulations that thousands of Queensland small business operators meet.
Taxi Council Queensland (TCQ) says that the Government and police should be ashamed that illegal taxi operator uber has made criminality and illegality cool.
TCQ chief executive officer Benjamin Wash said that uber has mastered the art of lies and deception, with sections of the media and some MPs falling for it “hook, line and sinker”.
He dismissed claims that the company has done 2.5 million trips in south east Queensland as “unfounded and laughable, designed to cloak their illegal operations”.
“That police and the Government openly allow a company to break the law and ignore orders to stop, just because this company has a lot of money, is reprehensible and a blight on law and order in Queensland.
“Since when can you buy your way to break the law with money and popular publicity campaigns? It is shameful that this is being allowed.”
Mr Wash said if uber were operating within regulations the Taxi Council would have no issue whatsoever but “we have illegal, tax-avoiding taxi operators who refuse to meet even the most minimal of safety standards, and these people are undermining the legal business operations of over 16,000 small business operators that make up the state’s taxi industry.”
He warned that regulation will no longer protect any small business in Queensland because clearly it means nothing to the Government.
“I repeat again - the taxi industry welcomes competition and we embrace new technology, but there must be a level playing field; and until there is this level playing field, illegal taxi operators cannot be allowed to operate.”
Referring to recent allegations of attacks on uber drivers Mr Wash said, “while we condemn any acts of violence by anyone on anyone, it is also the ultimate in hypocrisy for police and government to tell taxi operators not to take the law into their own hands when they themselves refuse to uphold the law by policing and stopping illegal taxi operators.
Taxi Council welcomes transport review but says uber still must obey law
Queensland’s peak taxi body says a review of personalised transport services in Queensland will provide the industry with the opportunity to put forward their views in a logical and rational manner, however has called on the State Government to continue to enforce existing legislation against illegal taxis while the review is in process.
Taxi Council Queensland chief executive officer Benjamin Wash said the industry has “never worried about competition”, declaring that the Queensland taxi industry is the best in the world.
However he believes the review should not be rushed. “The terms of reference of this review are extremely broad and it is therefore in the interests of Queensland that we get this right.”
“The recent Fels Inquiry in Victoria took two years and we believe this review should take at least that. It is important that the independent taskforce learn all of the facts and receive all of the information,” he said.
Mr Wash also said the State Government must continue to uphold existing laws and prosecute uber drivers for breaking the law, and has urged Transport Minister Jackie Trad to honour her own words.
“The Transport Minister was quoted in today’s media as stating – ‘Where people act outside the law, they should face the force of the law,’ and we agree, which is why we call on her to ensure illegal taxis face the force of the law.
“Our question to the minister is that as uber is acting outside the law, why are they still allowed to operate?”
He also called on the independent taskforce not to accept any submission by uber until they abide by the law and stop operating illegal taxi services.
“It is unacceptable for a government to allow a company that is in clear breach of the law to participate in a review of legislation.
“uber have a right to lobby for a change like we all do, but until that change happens they must be forced to abide by existing laws.”