KAP state leader and Member for Mt Isa Rob Katter, along with Federal Leader Bob Katter, Senate candidate Rowell Walton, Toowoomba South Candidate Ken Elliott and Federal Candidate for Maranoa Rick Gurnett have drawn a line in the sand against Uber.
Speaking in Toowoomba today with a rally of local taxi drivers Rob Katter had declared Toowoomba the next battle ground against unlicensed taxi services.
The KAP who have been vehemently opposed to Uber operating without regulation, took a stand when the corporation announced it will operating in the regional centre of Toowoomba.
“I think no one in Queensland minds competition but we just want a fair go,” Mr Katter said.
“To operate against the laws put in place by the state undermines the principals by which we operate a fair and legitimate business.
“Sure there is a low cost service in Uber but that comes at a cost, that cost is a loss of taxes to Australia, a loss of the regulations that ensure a safe service for people and a reliable service operating 24/7.
“Taxi’s also provide over 1 million rides per year to those confined to a wheelchair, how else are we going to supply these government mandated services,” he said.
Mr Katter said he wants Toowoomba to look at the big picture and stand up for small businesses.
“This is a point where we should all be standing up to say small business has a place in Australia, we are not going to be dictated to by multinationals who come in with their large media campaigns and sell shiny baubles to young people saying this is a great new service,” he said.
Uber drivers now risk facing penalties of up to $2300 following a recently passed KAP bill, introduced by Mr Katter.
“It drives me absolutely wild, we spend all this time dealing with safety issues in parliament to make the laws and ensure community standards, and a multinational corporation feels they have deep enough pockets to treat any laws in this country and the people of Queensland with absolute contempt,” Mr Katter said.
“If I start up a business tomorrow I need to check out the laws in which I want to operate that business, if I want to start up a pub tomorrow I need to wait until my licence is approved; they have said we don’t really care about the laws in your country it doesn’t matter what the laws or the government says we have deep enough pockets to win over the youth and the media,” he said.
Mr Katter said he has often seen the powers of Government weakened on the issue of market power.
“This is a story we see time and time again, you’re letting small businesses in Australia get rolled by these multinationals, if we accept this here we can look forward to unregulated pharmacies and selling booze out the back of your house,” Mr Katter said.
“There has got to be a circuit breaker there, government has got to do its job, it’s the same situation with the dairy industry,” he said.
The KAP stance against Uber is one of the regional party’s many pushes against excessive market power.
“Where we have been successful in conflicts like this in the past is through government, one of the founding principles of KAP is to hit that space and ensure small Australian Businesses aren’t the ones who lose out.
“Try and repair some balance in industries, we are doing that through ethanol, we are doing that in the sugar industry, we will be doing that in the dairy industry and we are attempting to do that in the transport industry,” he said.
Party Leader Bob Katter had likened the issue of possible taxi deregulation to the deregulation on the dairy industry.
“In the dairy industry we had 243 dairy farmers in the Atherton Tablelands before deregulation was announced, we now have only 38; it’s just all gone the area lost 50 million dollars,”
Mr Katter said “The greater Toowoomba area also lost 100 million dollars due to the deregulation.
“What we are saying to you is if you continue to deregulate with unhinge industry in Australia, you will suffer the same fate as the dairy industry,” he said.
The Member for Kennedy had concerns about the reliability service based on promises instead of a legislative structure.
“If you have a giant foreign corporation coming in and they have a monopoly hiring people part time as a second job, they aren’t going to be as committed,” Mr Katter said.
“Taxi drivers however have to pay $20000 a licence that guarantees that the taxi is on the road 24 hours a day every day a year, we also have regulated pricing.
“Watch what happens when arbitration has been taken away and we are facing off against one of the world’s largest corporations, what chance has anyone got,” he said.
The KAP will continue to fight for the rights of small legitimate businesses in Queensland in the lead up to the outcome of the OPT review.