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Qld Uber market legal from September

AAP logoAAP 10/08/2016 By Jamie McKinnell

Ride-sharing services will be legal in Queensland from next month in a government move that has reignited tensions between Uber and taxi drivers.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk first revealed the sweeping changes on Thursday morning, including a $100 million package to help with a smooth transition.

Minister for Transport Stirling Hinchliffe later revealed existing taxi licence holders would be paid $20,000 per licence, capped at two per individual.

"We believe in innovation done with fairness," he said in Brisbane.

"The uncertainty needs to stop and today marks the start of a new level playing field."

The government will set up a $26.7 million "hardship fund" for struggling cabbies and waive $4.3 million in fees.

Taxis will retain exclusive rights to the rank and hail market.

The changes follow a review into the emerging ride-sharing industry, ordered last October, which the Taxi Council Queensland labelled as "a farce" that had wasted millions of dollars.

Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Wash questioned the independence of the panel and said the result meant a "multi-national bully" had successfully entered the market through intimidation.

"We have said from the outset that this was a test of the rule of law," he said.

"If taxi regulations can be ignored so can all regulations and no law-abiding small business is now safe from large corporate blackmail."

Peak motoring body RACQ, a long-time supporter of ride-sharing, welcomed the change as the most practical solution.

Spokesman Paul Turner said the taxi industry had thrived in countries where Uber was already an established market player.

"They've got a legitimate right to continue to compete and we think they will," he said.

Mr Turner said the review was about setting up regulations to deliver "the most flexible, cheapest and safest transport system we can get".

Uber spokesman Brad Kitschke said the approval of ride-sharing in Queensland was a great outcome, particularly for consumers.

"What's come out is a very sensible result," he said.

"It enshrines rank and hail for the taxi industry, gives them a monopoly on that work for the future but also allows ride-sharing to grow."

The Liberal National Party opposition, which has previously supported the notion of an even playing field, said it wanted to more closely evaluate the proposals before making a decision.

But transport spokesman Andrew Powell was far from impressed with the $100 million price tag.

"I think Queenslanders deserve an explanation of how that money is going to be put back," he said.

The reforms will mean all drivers of "booked services" need to undergo health and criminal checks and have their vehicles inspected annually.

Uber cars will also need to display a sign in their rear window.

Since the introduction of laws cracking down on ride-sharing drivers in April, more than $2 million in penalties have been handed to 738 people.

Mr Hinchliffe said the fines would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure fines for safety breaches were still pursued.

It will remain illegal to operate a ride-sharing vehicle until September 5.

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