New South Wales Premier Mike Baird said there are no plans to legalise Uber in the state any time soon as the government continues to consider the recommendations that were submitted by the Point to Point Transport Taskforce in October.
In an interview with 2UE on Monday, the premier dismissed claims made by The Daily Telegraph that the NSW government had given the controversial ridesharing service the green light to be legalised.
"Well that's jumped the gun", he said of the news report, clarifying that the Department of Transport has considered legalising Uber but has not gone beyond that.
He added: "Obviously that report will be considered as part of the process, go to Cabinet in good time, and when that is done we'll have more to say about it."
Baird highlighted that one aspect of the recommendation that was made by the taskforce -- one that he supports and something that Roy Wakelin-King CEO of the NSW Taxi Council has been pushing -- is the need to create a level playing field in point to point transport services in NSW.
"What we need to understand is the taxi industry is effectively 6,000 small businesses. They have been born into this industry on the basis of a significant upfront capital investment, and often many have put their whole life savings into it, so it is a challenge when new technology comes along," he said.
"We have a focus on making sure our customers are given every opportunity and consumers are given every opportunity. But how do you deal with those 6,000 small businesses in this new world is something we need to consider carefully."
The Point to Point Taskforce was launched by the NSW government in July, and headed by Professor Gary Sturgess, who was assisted by Tom Parry. They were tasked to work with customers and the taxi industry to examine the impact of emerging technologies, and opportunities to update existing regulations.
Point to point transport includes taxis, hire cars, tourist services, community transport, ridesharing services, and courtesy buses.
In a discussion paper in August, the taskforce called for changes to the current regulatory framework to reduce red tape and level the playing field for the taxi industry and other point to point transport services.
Meanwhile, state Opposition Leader Luke Foley said the government has taken too long to legalise the service.
"Hoping that it would just go away was always doomed to failure," Foley told ABC Radio on Monday.
"Smartphone technology apps make possible the one million trips via Uber we have seen in its first 12 months of operation in Sydney."
The move to regulate Uber comes after the ACT government became the country's first jurisdiction to legalise ridesharing, which came into effect at the end of last month.
As part of the reforms, annual licence fees for taxis and hire cars were dramatically reduced, and ridesharing drivers must undergo criminal history and driver history checks. Vehicles are also checked for safety.
The Victorian government is also preparing to regulate Uber by working on a regulatory regime that addresses passenger safety, driver and vehicle standards, and insurance issues.
Head of Victorian Taxi Association David Samuel believes a workable solution is not too far for the state.
"I think it's inevitable, guys, that this service will be regulated. I don't think there can be any doubt about that," he told 3AW radio on Monday.
Similarly, in Western Australia, the state's Department of Transport released its still-open green paper in July, which centred on regulating the transport industry and ensuring consumer safety. Minister of Transport Dean Nalder said he hopes the outcome would "simplify this with a single piece of legislation".
Meanwhile, the war between Uber and the taxi industry escalated in Queensland during October when two Uber drivers were assaulted.