Premier approval doesn't stop Queensland crack down on Uber

The Queensland government has issued Uber with a cease-and-desist notice despite Campbell Newman giving the service the green light earlier this morning.
Written by AAP , Contributor and  Chris Duckett, Contributor

Queensland has followed in NSW's footsteps by banning start-up taxi service company Uber.

The government issued a cease-and-desist notice last week to the web-based driver hire company, which allows non-taxi drivers to offer a taxi service.

Uber's ride-sharing service, which started in Brisbane last month, is limited to licensed drivers aged at least 24 whose vehicle has at least four doors and was made after 2005.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson says the company needs to meet existing taxi service laws, such as driver accreditation and vehicle standards.

"The department is working with Uber to outline what safety regulations it needs to meet in order to operate in Queensland, including driver authorisation, which includes detailed criminal history checks, vehicle standards and taxi licences," he said.

Premier Campbell Newman expressed concern that the service might not be as safe as traditional taxis, and said he wouldn't want his daughters to use it.

"I do have some concerns over the whole thing," the premier said.

"I've got daughters, 19 and 21, I would prefer them catching a cab because I know about all the safeguards, cameras, trained drivers, GPS locations of cabs real-time.

"Yes, [Uber] has safeguards in there as well, but I'd prefer to use a ridgy-didge cab."

Newman had earlier said the government didn't believe in red tape and regulation unless it was absolutely necessary, but later updated his advice following advice from Emerson's office.

Taxi Council Queensland CEO Benjamin Wash said it was only fair Uber complied with existing regulation.

"Companies that do not meet regulatory requirements jeopardise the industry's reputation, put lives at risk and hurt small business people who have invested heavily in meeting the regulations," he said.

Queensland's move comes a day after Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the Code Conference yesterday that Google would look to use partners, in a similar way to how Google uses partners for its Nexus device, in a future commercial release of its self-driving car program.

"We are most certainly going to partner with other companies, possibly Uber," Brin said.

At the conference today, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said that the world is headed towards a self-driving future, one that would arrive in the coming decades, and Uber needed to be a part of it, if it is to exists in the future.

"When there's no other dude in the car, the cost of taking Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle,"  Kalanick said in a Bloomberg report.

According to Bloomberg, Uber is currently raising funds that will value the company at over US$10 billion.

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