Queensland hits Uber drivers with AU$125,000 in fines over 78 hours

The state's police force conducted a blitz over the recent long weekend thanks to the passage of new laws increasing the fines for people caught driving for Uber in Queensland.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Queensland's crackdown on Uber has led to fines amounting to more than AU$120,000 being issued to drivers over the last long weekend, the state's transport minister has said.

Stirling Hinchliffe told Parliament on Tuesday that transport officers undertook 78 hours of enforcement activity over the Labour Day long weekend.

According to Hinchliffe, officers issued fines totalling AU$127,926 during the crackdown, with 51 drivers caught providing an illegal taxi service.

Three drivers were busted more than once, he said.

"While the Queensland government welcomes innovation in transport, passenger safety will always remain our number one priority," Hinchliffe said.

"Our transport inspectors must have the appropriate tools to ensure that they can uphold the current and any future regulations."

The blitz came after 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.

Under the new legislation, fines have jumped from AU$1,413 to AU$2,356 for drivers, while Uber itself could be fined up to AU$23,560. Uber has previously said that it will operate as normal, and will challenge the fines in court.

Soon after the laws -- which temporarily and inadvertently made charter bus services, tourist services, chartered school bus services, community transport services, limousine services, shuttle services, and hotel accommodation transfer services illegal if not operated by a licensed taxi -- were passed, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was fed up with waiting for an independent review to spell out how ride-booking services like Uber are to operate in the state, and wanted it brought forward to July.

"I think we need to make a decision on that and finalise it," Palaszczuk said at the time.

Elsewhere across Australia, the governments of South Australia, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory have all given the ride-booking service the green light.

Earlier this year in France, Uber was fined €1.2 million after a complaint from the traditional taxi industry federation that Uber and others were flouting rules that limit alternative cab services to pre-booked business.

The company's UberPop service was deemed to be illegal in France in January 2015, but has continued operating regardless.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick revealed in February the ride-booking service is losing over $1 billion a year in China due to fierce competition with local firms.

With AAP

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