Government tells Uber to leave Queensland

Uber_Brisbane

The Queensland government has shown that it’s more interested in protecting vested interests than creating jobs or providing services to the Queensland public.

In a segment on 612 ABC Brisbane, Uber’s head of policy, Brad Kitschke, revealed that Queensland’s Deputy Premier, Jackie Trad, had instructed Uber to close its business and leave Queensland. Asked for the deputy premier’s exact words, Kitschke replied:

The Minister said that if we wanted to have a discussion with her—about the future and about reform—that the best thing we could do to create good will, was to shut our business.

This is an extraordinary demand from a senior government minister who, as minister for transport, ought to be encouraging new transport alternatives.

But attempting to chase Uber out of Queensland won’t just reduce residents’ transportation options. It will also cost jobs.

Uber claims to have already created 2,000 new jobs in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The company believes it can create an addition 4,000 jobs this year, if the government is willing to create an appropriate regulatory solution.

Based on the deputy premier’s comments, this is not something of interest to the Queensland government.

This is extraordinary. A senior member of government—form a party which claims to represent working people—is actively attempting to prevent new jobs being created.

Jackie Trad attempted to justify her position earlier in the radio segment. Trad repeated the same erroneous safety concerns promoted by the taxi industry—which I have previously written about here on FreedomWatch, and in the Herald Sun.

There was one credible safety concern raised by the deputy premier. This was the fact that, whilst Uber drivers are subject to police checks when they become accredited by the Department of Transport and Main Roads, they are not subject to the daily criminal history checks that are applied to taxi drivers.

This potentially means that an Uber driver could be convicted of a crime after they are already an Uber driver, and Uber wouldn’t know.

But this merely reveals the government’s complete hypocrisy. As Uber’s Brad Kitschke made clear:

We’ve been asking for access to the database that is used to ensure those daily checks, for over a year now. And the department has refused to give us access. They’ve given access to other booking apps, like GoCatch, but they refuse to give access to Uber.

Kitschke continued:

If the deputy premier was seriously concerned about public safety, the Deputy Premier could solve this in 20 minutes, by giving us access to that database that we’ve been asking for, for 12 months.

Unfortunately, it appears that Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government is more interested in protecting the existing taxi cartel, and reaping the revenue from the $525,000 taxi license fees, than allowing the growth of innovative new services that create jobs and serve the needs of Queensland residents.


For more on the sharing economy, check out the IPA’s paper by Chris Berg and Darcy Allen: The sharing economy: How over-regulation could destroy an economic revolution.

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