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Bob Katter seeks to stop Uber in Queensland

Katter's Australian Party leader Bob Katter, pictured with Bowen taxi owner John Barry.

Katter Australian Party (KAP) leader Bob Katter called into Bowen recently as part of a statewide campaign to prevent ride-sharing service Uber getting a foothold in Queensland.

Mr Katter said Uber was operating illegally and threatened the standards and safety of taxi services across the state.

"Uber are an illegal taxi service and spawning copycats across Queensland," he said.

"Anyone, anywhere can drive their private cars and ferry the public around and the government is turning a blind eye. It erodes the integrity and viability of the taxi licensing scheme administered by the State Government and it's evident existing penalties are not sufficient to deter the increase in illegal taxi services," he said.

Bowen taxi owner John Barry said he supported the KAP bill to stop Uber in its tracks, saying it was necessary to uphold Queensland's law and transport regulation system. Uber has become legal in NSW and it will also be legalised in WA in sweeping reforms of the taxi industry in that state.

Mr Barry is concerned the price of taxi licences could plummet if Uber was allowed to gain further market traction.

The company has no immediate plans to launch in regional Queensland or Bowen, but if a market emerged Uber would pounce on the opportunity

"We don't know what exactly is going to happen, but it's been estimated licences could fall by 20 per cent or more," he said.

"The cost of buying a taxi licence plate in Sydney dropped to its lowest level in six years last year. There was a similar shift in Victoria where prices fell from $500,000 to $290,000 after the Victorian Government removed restrictions on the number available.

"The presence of Uber would further impact the costs over time," he said.

An Uber spokesman said the company had no immediate plans to launch in regional Queensland or Bowen, but if a market emerged Uber would pounce on the opportunity.

"We would like to launch in more regional centres but we are waiting on a regulatory response from government," the spokesman said.

"We do know regional communities are suffering from underemployment and unemployment and believe they would benefit from having the economic opportunities that ride sharing brings. We have also seen that having access to safe, reliable and affordable transport lowers incidences of drink-driving, an issue that is particularly felt in regional communities across the country," he said.

KAP has introduced a bill that would see Uber drivers, who can already be fined under existing legislation, penalised through demerit points.