Taxi assistance package: Laws being debated in Queensland parliament

A bill that will allow compensation to taxi licence holders is being debated in Queensland. Photo: SuppliedMotorists will face heftier fines for stopping in taxi zones under new measures designed to shield the taxi industry from the rise of Uber.

Debate has begun on the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, which features a $100 million taxi and limousine assistance package.

Uber became legal in Queensland from September 5, with the government’s assistance package for taxis and limos designed to help ease the strain on the traditional industry.

Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he would urgently move to increase the fine for illegally stopping in a taxi zone from $48 to $243.

“This change builds on recent increases to fines for related offences of soliciting and touting, and providing an unlicensed taxi service and will support effective enforcement of illegal activity by ride-booking services,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

The Transport and Utilities Committee made 30 recommendations, including increasing the $100 million assistance package and reviewing the limit of two licences per holder for assistance payments.

The payments would include $20,000 per taxi licence and $10,000 per limo licence.

Mr Hinchliffe said the total funding for the assistance package of $100 million would not increase as it “would be at the taxpayers’ expense”.

The two licence cap for taxis would also not be lifted.

But Mr Hinchliffe said all ownership structures would be eligible for the payments, including individuals, trusts, companies and superannuation funds.

Mr Hinchliffe said payments would be made to industry as soon as possible, with invitations expected to be sent to eligible taxi and limo holders in December.

Opposition Transport spokesman Andrew Powell said the bill was “flawed and botched” and described it as “kick in the guts” to taxi and limo operators.

“The LNP also welcomes competition but there must be fair compensation and a fair and level playing field for the personalised transport industry,” Mr Powell said.

Mr Powell said it was unfair to cap compensation on two licences per holder.

Debate on the bill continues on Thursday afternoon.

The government will introduce a second stage of industry reforms with legislation to be implemented from August 2017.

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