The Queensland government is continuing its crackdown on ride-sharing services, with new laws passing overnight that see big new fines for both drivers and Uber itself.
Under the changes, police can now fine UberX drivers up to $2356, an increase from $1413, while Uber and other ride sharing services face fines of $23,560. Transport inspectors and police also have greater powers to investigate anyone suspected of operating an “illegal taxi” and less proof is now required to charge a driver or the company.
Katter’s Australian Party proposed a demerit point penalty as part of the bill, but that was scrapped.
Uber itself doesn’t seem to be fazed by Queensland’s crackdown. Brad Kitshke, the director of public policy for Uber, told ABC radio nothing will change for them.
“Drivers over the last year haven’t been paying fines,” Mr Kitschke told ABC radio.
“They’ve been electing to go to court and have a court adjudicate the matter. The government has 12 months… to prosecute or let fines lapse and what the government has been doing is letting those fines lapse.
“The law is so old and outdated they can’t be sure the ride-sharing participants are committing an offence.”
The Queensland changes come as both New South Wales and South Australia have moved to legalise ride sharing services, compensating taxi drivers for plate costs and charging a levy to cover it. The ACT also made Uber legal.
Queensland will have another review of its ride-sharing laws in August, and the state’s peak motoring body, the RACQ, has urged the government to focus on reform rather than penalty.