As many of you will be aware, Premier Campbell Newman received a phone call while on 612 ABC Brisbane regarding uber.
29 May 2014, 612 ABC Brisbane - Qld Premier takes your call
The Premier’s comments were taken by uber and quickly translated into an article with the following heading: “Queensland Premier gives uber the green light”.
Subsequent to this article being posted on the internet I contacted the Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Scott Emerson, to confirm if the Premier had been quoted out of context and whether the Government’s position on ensuring compliance with existing regulation had changed.
The Minister confirmed that uber had been issued a “cease and desist” letter last week and would be required to comply with existing regulations.
In the meantime, the head of AAP was contacted by Mercer PR to request that the article be amended to incorporate comments from TCQ and to change the headline as it was misleading.
The head of AAP in Brisbane agreed with this request. NB: Due to the nature of syndication, even though several major news outlets did remove the original article, there are still many sites that have it available.
Further to my conversation with the Minister, the following media release was sent out: “Queensland Premier’s comments on uber”.
Late yesterday afternoon, the Minister’s office released a media statement clarifying their position on uber resulting in the following updated article: “Qld cracks down on uber taxi service”.
As a side note, I met with the Premier this morning, as a participant of the Premier’s Business Advisory Forum, and had an opportunity to discuss the matter. He made it clear that he intended to endorse the good work the industry does and the media twisted his words.
The learnings from this process are that uber is clearly looking for any opportunity to validate their service and, being backed by google, can move with alarming speed to get that message out worldwide. Further, they have little interest in accuracy.
Secondly, the media are unwitting pawns to uber’s cause by being prepared to run such a bold headline in the first instance and then a similarly bold headline in the second instance. Ironically, neither is actually the case: uber has neither been “green lighted” nor banned!!
I think it is fair to say that, at this point in time, it is AAP who look erratic and unprofessional. In less than 12 hours they published two diametrically opposed articles, neither of which represent the actual position!
TMR are proceeding with their two-step process of 1) inform and educate and 2) enforce. With this in mind it is likely that the first fines will be issued within the next three to four weeks.
When TMR moves into step two, enforcement, I have urged that fines be issued for every single infringement that is found including, but not limited to:
• $17,600 – offering a public passenger service without an OA – issued to the operator under s. 15 of the Transport Operations (Passenger Transport) Act 1994 (“the Act”)
• $17,600 – offering a public passenger service without an OA – issued to uber under s. 16 of the Act
• $1,100 – operating a public passenger vehicle without a DA – issued to the driver under s. 27 of the Act
• $17,600 – operating a public passenger vehicle without a DA – issued to uber under s. 28 of the Act
• $17,600 – operating a public passenger service without a service contract – issued to uber under s. 43 of the Act
• $17,600 – providing a taxi service in a vehicle that is not a taxi – issued to either uber or the operator under s. 65 of the Act
• $4,400 – failure to provide a peak demand management plan – issued to uber under s. 67A of the Act
• $17,600 – operating without a taxi service licence, or a peak demand permit – issued to the operator under s. 70 of the Act
• $17,600 – fitting a taximeter in a vehicle other than a taxi – issued to the operator under s. 74AC of the Act
• $17,600 – using a taximeter in a vehicle other than a taxi – issued to the operator under s. 74AC of the Act
There are likely many other breaches that may be found by compliance officers when commissioning an uber service, however I think that issuing each uber service with the full suite of the fines above would be a satisfactory start ($146,300 in case you’re wondering).
In closing I would strongly recommend not discussing uber with customers or the media as this plays into their campaign for exposure. Providing them no oxygen is more damaging to them than talking about them, whether your words be good or bad.
TCQ’s website is updated daily with news, media releases and any other relevant information so please visit the site often to keep informed.
In order for uber to succeed they must demonstrate to our customers that they have a genuinely better service offering and must overcome the hurdle of enticing customers that are already brand loyal.
This is no mean feat, however it means that we must remain focussed on delivering the highest quality service each and every time a customer steps into one of our cabs in Queensland.
Benjamin Wash CPA
Chief Executive Officer
Taxi Council Queensland