The Queensland government on Wednesday passed a new law that has effectively increased higher penalties for ride- sharing services like Uber. The bill has also bestowed the transport inspectors stronger powers to detect offenders.
Paid ridesharing services are still illegal in Queensland, but the current taxi regulations are under review by the government. The Uber drivers can now be fined up to $2,356 and the administrators of illegal ride-sharing services will face fines up to $23,560.
The private member’s bill was introduced in the Queensland parliament on Wednesday night by Rob Katter’s Australian Party and was passed with the Opposition’s support. Katter, a KAP MP accused Uber of jeopardising the taxi industry.
“That’s why they’re a $60 billion company worldwide. A lot of people have been soft targets, I hope we won’t be in Queensland,” the ABC quoted him as saying. Katter said that the new regulations sent a message to Uber and other ride-sharing services that they cannot rule Queensland by their own business plan.
“They don’t make the decisions, we do here. Someone has to be the grown-up and say ‘I’m sorry you might get a cheaper ride tonight but in the long run this does not serve the national interest’. That’s the question that needs to be addressed, not the tide is coming. That’s not a reason to do it,” he said.
The Uber developers created “Katter option” in response to the bill. The users will be shown a message saying “no cars available”” on the screen if they click on the option, News.com.au reported.
“Your MP voted with Katter to take Uber away from you,” a message says to the users when they open the open the app. “Request a trip on the ‘Katter’ option to see a Qld without Uber. #keepQLDmoving”.
According to Sam Bool, Uber general manager, the Katter option was created to pressurise the MPs who settled for backroom deals without listening to the people.