A three-way duel between Uber, the taxi industry and state governments continues
WA, NSW and the ACT have legalised UberX, the budget incarnation of the US-based Uber ride share company, while Victoria, Queensland and NT continue to deliberate on the topic. Tasmania remains Uber-free with no such services operating and no corresponding legislation.
Queensland’s Labor government is awaiting results from an inquest into Uber, due in August 2016, before casting decisions. However, while it invites innovation to the taxi industry, Right to Information legislation reveals 6000 hours were spent by Queensland Transport on “enforcement activities” around Uber operations, as revealed by Uber Australia New Zealand general manager David Rohrsheim.
“No-one in the department has found one hour to come down to our office,” Rohrsheim says. “When they do they’ll find every driver holds a Queensland government commercial driver accreditation, every car’s been inspected by a third party, there’s insurance in place and they’ll find there’s GPS on every trip.”
Nearly $2 million worth of fines on Uber drivers were netted by Queensland’s government over the past 18 months, after the (former) Newman government’s cease and desist notice was implemented in May 2015.
Victoria’s Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan remains sheepish about legalising the $60 billion ride-sharing service, saying to AFMA in a statement “The emergence of ride-share services like Uber needs careful consideration, not only of customer needs and wants, but also the safety of the public, conditions placed on other taxi and hire car services and how a new ride share market would fit into this mix.”
In December, Nathan Brenner was found guilty and fined $900 for illegally operating a hire car without commercial licencing or registration, although 6500 Uber drivers have transported half a million Melbournians.
September 2015 parliamentary protests in Melbourne and Sydney by cab operators and industry figures highlights the concern among the heavily governed taxi service.
Uber drivers report gross underpayment after commissions paid to Uber, running costs, income tax and superannuation. Operators act under a strict performance rating through the smartphone app, capable of locking them out of Uber if performance wains based on customer feedback.
State governments scramble to keep up with emerging technological change to the flailing and primitive taxi industry, while illegal use of UberX services continues to drive a positive experience hailed by the consumer dollar.