Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said she is aiming for a “level playing field” as ride share company Uber continues to duke it out with the Queensland Taxi Council.
The state’s taxi strategy, set down in 2010, is due to expire this year.
Uber has stepped up its campaign pushing against what it calls the taxi industry’s monopoly, writing a 44-page letter to each of Queensland’s 89 MPs asking the government to “enter into meaningful conversations about reform and recognise ridesharing as a new and distinct form of point-to-point transport that requires a new regulatory approach”.
The state’s Taxi Council, meanwhile, has accused Uber of attempting to “bully” its way into the marketplace with an unfair advantage.
Uber argues it is not a taxi service, merely connecting passengers with drivers and therefore should not be subject to the same regulations as the taxies.
The taxi industry argues just as hard that they are required to fork out thousands of dollars because of those regulation requirements and Uber drivers are doing the same job, without paying the piper.
Both sides are calling on the government to do something.
Ms Trad said she was trying to.
“I have already met with Uber,” she said, adding it was six weeks ago.
“We had a discussion. I had a discussion with the taxi industry council, as I said before the Palaszczuk-Labor Government has an open door policy.
“I am very happy to meet with Uber and the Taxi Council to discuss the issues they have in terms of regulation with the industry.
“But can I just say that the taxi strategy for Queensland expires this year and we have been having conversations in that context.
“We understand that the world is changing, but we also understand that a lot of mums and dads have made significant investments, in terms of their taxi licences, and that needs to be respected.
“I am happy and willing to be talking to everyone in the industry to make sure the playing field is fair, that passenger safety first and fundamentally is forefront and centre and as I said, I am looking forward to talking to them.”
Ms Trad said the solution could be found in “compromise”, but that it was a work in progress.
“There are a number of issues to deal with the regulation of drivers, criminal history checks and daily reporting which occurs in the regulated taxi industry,” she said.
“I have expressed to Uber my concerns in relation to this and I am happy to keep talking to them, but let me be clear.
“The Palaszczuk-Labor Government made a commitment at the election that we would work with everyone in the industry to make sure that the investments that mum and dad’s have put into taxi licences are respected and secure and to make sure that passenger safety is of paramount concern when we look at other options operating within the taxi industry.”
The issue continues to dog the government, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk put on the spot by a local taxi driver during her cabinet’s recent visit to the central-Queensland town of Rockhampton.