Uber launches on Gold Coast despite ban

Summary:Car-hailing company Uber appears unfazed by a Queensland government crackdown, announcing that it has expanded to the Gold Coast.

The Thursday launch of Uber on Queensland's Gold Coast came in spite of a state government-issued cease-and-desist order in May, which said that the service's Brisbane operations were in breach of transport regulations.

The controversial Google-backed app lets users book lifts in taxis and privately driven cars, often at a cheaper rate than traditional cab operators.

Private drivers must be licensed, comprehensively insured, aged at least 24, free of a criminal record, and drive a car made after 2005 with at least four doors.

Regulators and industry bodies argue that these standards aren't strict enough.

They say that the service endangers passengers by sidestepping industry regulations related to driver accreditation and vehicle standards.

Uber counters that high demand shows that Australians are happy with the service, saying that the platform offers consumers much-needed choice and creates jobs.

Uber told AAP in a statement that the service has been welcomed by riders and drivers in Queensland, and that talks with the government are ongoing.

"Adapting to a new technology and a new option in transportation can sometimes be difficult for systems that have been entrenched for many years," it said.

Uber's spread has caused headaches for several state governments.

On Monday, the South Australian government said Uber is unlawful, and that drivers would face fines.

The NSW government has already fined some Uber drivers up to AU$2,500, while the Victorian government has issued fines of up to AU$1,700.

Uber also announced on Thursday that the service would be launched in Wellington, New Zealand. It is already available in Auckland.

The two new additions bring the number of global cities serviced by Uber to 183, including Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Perth, and Adelaide.

Topics: Start-Ups, Government : AU

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