Opposition leader Matthew Guy’s UberX trip illegal: taxi industry
STATE opposition leader Matthew Guy has defended taking a trip with controversial ride-sharing app Uber, urging the government legalise it.
The MP was filmed yesterday taking a ride in an UberX car, a service which is illegal in Victoria.
Victorian Taxi Association (VTA) CEO David Samuel said Mr Guy’s ride was disappointing.
“I’m concerned that a senior member of parliament would associate himself with a dangerous and illegal service,” he said.
“There are serious questions about how Uber operates in Victoria, including whether UberX drivers have commercial insurance to protect ride users and passengers.”
The taxi industry has accused the MP of breaking the law. But it remains unclear as to whether Mr Guy could face charges.
A spokesperson for industry watchdog the Taxi Services Commission (TSC) would not comment on whether it was against the law for passengers to use illegal ride-sharing services, referring SYN News’ request for comment to the minister’s office.
A landmark test case is currently before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, involving 12 Uber drivers who have been repeatedly caught.
The TSC is seeking fines of up to $7500 per driver. The case is currently adjourned with the defence casting doubt over the ability of commissioner Graeme Samuel to enforce the law.
If the drivers are found guilty, it could have disastorous ramifications for Uber across the state.
Mr Guy’s office would not make further comment, referring SYN News to a statement issued alongside a video on his Facebook page.
“Uber is a great way of complementing our cab industry,” it said.
“It is not about replacing cabs—there will always be a cab industry here in Victoria, and a strong one.”
Mr Guy said the ride-sharing service would boost the state’s economy, providing extra income for drivers.
But the taxi industry is concerned by a loss of business, accusing Uber of unfairly stealing its customers.
“The taxi industry continues to seek a level playing field on which to compete and clarity around the conditions within which the industry must operate,” the VTA said in a statement.
A inquiry into the industry was held in 2012, but it did not make reference to ride-sharing services.
Regulators, drivers and operators will meet with the state government in Melbourne next week to discuss the issues still plaguing the taxi and hire-car sectors.
A spokesperson for transport minister Jacinta Allan did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.