​Uber now legal in Tasmania

Tasmania now allows ridesharing services like those offered by California's Uber, becoming the last Australian state or territory to comment on its ride-booking stance.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Tasmanian Transport Commissioner has on Tuesday gazetted a notice that ride-booking drivers will be exempt from a requirement to obtain a taxi or hire vehicle licence in the state.

Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding said such a motion paves the way for the entry of ride-booking platforms such as Uber to begin legal operations in Tasmania.

"This outcome was made possible by the government's progressive legislation to enable ridesharing to begin operation in Tasmania with protections for passengers, drivers, and the general public," Hidding said.

"The sharing economy offers greater competition, consumer choice, efficiency, and lower transaction costs -- benefits that Tasmanians and visitors to our state increasingly expect.

"I now look forward to an announcement in the near future about a starting date for Uber before Christmas."

At midnight on December 18, 2015, the New South Wales government gave the green light to ride-booking services, allowing them to operate on the state's roads. By doing so it joined the Australian Capital Territory as the only states or territories to legalise the service at the time.

Since the start of July, Uber-like services have also been allowed to operate in South Australia, with Premier Jay Weatherill confirming in April that changes had been made to the state's taxi and chauffeur vehicle industry to invite healthy competition.

Uber drivers in Queensland have been operating legally since early September under new transport reforms that were announced by the state government in August.

The reforms came in response to recommendations made by the independent Opportunities for Personalised Transport Review that were called for by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk back in April, not long after the state imposed a ban on Uber.

Uber then launched a campaign in May urging Queenslanders to "fine" the premier for punishing drivers of the ride-booking service who were facing nearly AU$800,000 in penalties as a result of driving after the service was deemed illegal in the sunshine state.

51 Brisbane drivers racked up over AU$120,000 worth of fines during the Labour Day long weekend alone, with transport officers undertaking 78 hours of enforcement activity over the period.

In Western Australia, Uber was deemed legal under a major taxi industry reform announced in May, with the proviso that drivers had to obtain special "omnibus" licences in addition to their standard driving licences.

The Victorian government announced in August that over the next two years it will be overhauling the commercial passenger industry, leading to the establishment of a single registration system for all commercial passenger vehicles including taxis, hire cars, and ride-booking services.

The reforms by the Victorian government come after a decision passed in May by a Victorian County Court judge in favour of a Melbourne Uber driver, which effectively gave the service the green light to operate in the state.

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

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