NSW government offering AU$20,000 compensation grants to taxi drivers thanks to Uber

Selected taxi licence holders who have lost business in the state due to ridesharing services such as Uber will be able to apply for a grants worth AU$20,000 per licence.

The NSW government is making select NSW taxi licence holders who have lost business due to Uber and other ridesharing services eligible for AU$20,000 compensation grants.

The AU$250 million industry transition package will allow the drivers to apply for up-front payments for up to two licences, AU$100 million of which will be paid for by a AU$1 levy on all taxi and ridesharing trips, meaning that NSW ridesharing and taxi users will have to collectively contribute AU$100 million to pay for the scheme. AU$142 million has also been set aside for hardship claims.

According to the Transport NSW website, eligible drivers' licences must include a condition that it may be transferred, and drivers have to have held their licence prior to July 1, 2016. Applications for the payments are currently open until January 13, 2017.

The AU$1 levy to compensate taxi drivers for the legislation was passed last month, with Transport Minister Andrew Constance describing the package at the time as one of the most generous in the world for taxi licence holders.

"Nowhere else in the world have we seen such a generous compensation package to assist industry adjustment when it comes to the taxi industry; nowhere else in the world have we made available the capacity for the transport economy to evolve like we're going to see," Constance told reporters last month.

Uber general manager countered this by saying he wanted more of a transparency in the industry in how compensation was determined.

"If consumers are going to be asked to reach into their pockets and pay an extra levy to fund any hardship in the taxi industry I do hope that there is some transparency over that hardship," he said.

Uber's services were officially made legal in NSW by the state government back in December last year, with a new regular and commissioner put in place to oversee the industry. A transition period was also put in place for a number of months for ridesharing drivers to obtain the correct accreditation to drive legally on NSW roads.

Constance had stressed at the time that under the new model, taxis would enjoy exclusive access to rank and hail jobs.

ACT was the first Australian state or territory to legalise ridesharing last October. This included the same regulatory conditions that are enforced for taxi drivers, such as driver history checks and vehicle safety checks.

Uber was then deemed legal in Western Australia under major taxi industry reform in December, with the proviso that drivers had to obtain special "omnibus" licences in addition to their standard driving licences; while a decision passed by a Victorian County Court judge in favour of a Melbourne Uber driver effectively gave service the green light to operate in Victoria in May.

While South Australia followed suit at the start of this month, Uber is still battling the Queensland government to become legal in the state. The Queensland government last month passed new legislation to crack down on Uber drivers, which included increased fines and more powers for traffic enforcement officers.

The Northern Territory government is still refusing to allow Uber to operate.

With AAP

Correction 3:02pm AEST July 18, 2016: Eligible taxi drivers amended to selected taxi licence holders; application dates and conditions added.

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