Uber to be legal from September 5, says Palaszczuk

FROM September 5, Uber drivers will no longer be breaking the law when they pick up paying passengers, according to Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk.

The Queensland Premier has confirmed media reports on Thursday that so-called "ride-booking companies" will now be able to compete with taxis on a "level playing field".

The legalisation of the ride-sharing operation in Queensland will come with new rules that Ms Palaszczuk said would put the "best interests of consumers at heart" and priorities passenger safety.

She has also ruled out a placing a tax on Uber fares in order to compensate the taxi industry.

Instead the taxi industry will be given $100 million in industry assistance including $4 million off fees for the next 12 months.

On top of that, 80 other taxi regulations will be discarded as the government frees the industry from red tape.

"We are embracing innovative new technologies and business models right across our economy and up and down our state, and the personalised transport sector is no different," she said.

"But at the same time as we embrace the future, we will do it in a way that supports the taxi industry. This is a challenge all governments across Australia have faced.

"This is because the taxi industry is different from many other industries that have faced disruption, because it has been heavily regulated by government for generations."

Ms Palaszczuk said the new reforms will strike a balance between bringing the taxi industry into the digital era, while catering to those who have already begun using Uber and other taxi alternatives.


EARLIER: Ready to Uber? Ride-sharing to be legal in Queensland

LONG-awaited plans to deal with ride-sharing service Uber have come at last, with the Queensland Government expected to announce its push to legalise it across the state.

Although popular with users, Uber remains illegal in Queensland.

Fairfax Media is reporting that could soon change, with the Palaszczuk Government prepared to allow Uber to operate but with more regulations including driver background checks.

A review into Uber was delivered in late July, with the formal response now expected this month.

That review recommended Queensland one of three options to follow, the third being a new form of licence that would cover Uber and change the requirements on limousines so they could better compete for fares.

Under this system, the established taxis would still have exclusive access to "the rank and hail" market.

The changes are expected to make the industry more competitive, but are likely to be unsettling to the established taxi drivers whose licences have halved in value since 2014.

The government may explore placing levees or charges on Uber fares in an effort to compensate taxi drivers hard-hit by the entry of Uber, which has operated illegally in Queensland since at least 2013.

Such a plan is likely to be opposed by Uber, just as Uber's legalisation is likely to be fought by the taxi industry.

On its website, the Taxi Council Queensland describes Uber as "illegal taxis", dubbing them "unlawful, unsafe, uninsured".

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