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Make Uber legal across Queensland: RACQ

The Queensland government is expected to release the outcome of its Uber review soon.With the Queensland Government getting close to releasing its answer to the Uber question, the State’s peak motoring body may have given commuters a hint.
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The Palaszczuk Government received the final draft of the taxi and ride-sharing review it ordered almost a year ago late last month. It has promised a speedy turnaround, with Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe promising to release its response, along with the report, in the near future and hinting at a press conference, it would come by the months end.

But what shape that response will take remains the biggest issue. RACQ executive general manager for advocacy Paul Turner said the motoring body believed anything less than legalising ride-sharing across the state would be the government buying itself additional trouble.

“We would like to see a low-cost option for everyone and that means competition and that means ride sharing,” he said.

“What we have seen in NSW, which we really like, is local entrepreneurs getting on board and creating their own apps, launching their own ride-sharing businesses in places like Byron Bay and Wollongong.

“This is not just about one company, Uber. This is about creating a new way of public transport.”

The RACQ also supports taxis having exclusive rights to rank and hail.

Uber continues to operate in Queensland despite its technical illegal status.

After the Katter Party MPs moved a private member’s bill that would have seen Uber drivers lose their licence if they were caught driving for the ride sharing service three times, the government supported a compromise that increased the penalties and the powers under the existing legislation.

That’s seen a marked increase in the number of fines issued by department of transport inspectors, but it hasn’t stopped the service from growing in popularity.

In the meantime, taxi operators have seen the value of their licences plummet from $519,000 in 2014 to around $260,000 in 2016.

The taxi industry has continued to argue for a “fair playing ground” citing the high cost of operating a taxi, which is legal, compared to those driving for ride sharing apps such as Uber, which is illegal under the current taxi code.

It’s left the Palaszczuk Government with a costly decision to make. If it moves forward to legalise the service, following the lead of NSW, the ACT, South Australia and Western Australia, with Victoria indicating it will follow suit, the government will be left with almost no choice but to financially compensate taxi owners for the de-valuing of their licences.

Legalising ride sharing services just within the state’s south-east corner would also be problematic and further differentiate the south-east from other regions, a move both the LNP and Labor have pushed against on issues such as daylight saving.

Parliament resumes on 16 August.

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