Thanks to Queensland MP Rob Katter the Queensland Government has been shamed into recommencing the enforcement of its Passenger Transport Act against Uber and its UberX drivers with increased fines and powers to its Transport Inspectors.
by Peer Lindholdt
Brisbane 20 April 2016
Last year Queensland Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe admitted that his department had stopped fining UberX drivers because it was all too difficult for its hapless Transport Inspectors to catch them in the act.
It was also ineffective because Uber paid the drivers’ fines.
In response Queensland MP Rob Katter in September 2015 presented a Private Members Bill to Parliament that would provide for UberX drivers to be issued with demerit points. It was sent to a parliamentary committee for review.
The committee reported back in March advising against the demerit point proposal but admonishing the government for not enforcing Queensland’s laws against illegal taxis (UberX).
This evening the Katter Bill was finally debated and voted on in Parliament.
A large contingent of taxi owners and drivers were in the chamber to watch the parties vote for increased penalties and stronger enforcement measures, but any hope any of the major parties would support the original demerit point bill was dashed early. However, to everyone’s surprise there was bipartisan support for recommencing enforcement and increase fines.
Transport Inspectors will now have the power to fine Queensland Uber drivers up to $2356 and the company itself $23,560.
The new legislation means inspectors don’t need to ride with Uber themselves to be able to fine them. Journey receipts will be sufficient proof of a driver’s link to the service.
The pollies must be reading OZ Cabbie. In September 2015 we published a short article titled “An idiots guide to getting solid evidence against UberX driver” advising that.
Inspectors have also been given the power to request a driver’s licence of someone they reasonably suspect of being a driver for a ride-sharing service.
The question of whether or not Queensland will legalise Uber will not be answered until after August when a review into the taxi and ride-sharing industry is handed to the government.
That gives Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at least four month in which to demonstrate that her government is not a lame duck when it comes the enforcement of Queensland’s laws. However, the proof will be in the pudding.
Uber has already declared UberX will continue to operate as normal. It might not have been able to promise that had Katter's 'demerit point' bill been passed •