​Victorian Government threatens to prosecute UberX drivers

The battle between Uber and the authorities has escalated, with the Victorian Taxi Services Commission saying it will prosecute "repeat offenders" caught driving for Melbourne's UberX ridesharing service.

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Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
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Claire Reilly
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Graeme Samuel, the chair of the Victorian Taxi Services Commission (a state government body responsible for regulating the taxi and hire car industry) said that Uber had made a "fundamental error" in establishing ridesharing in Victoria.

"What Uber should have done was to sit down with us before they started this process of UberX," he told Melbourne radio station 3AW. "They should have sat down with us and said, 'This is what we want to do, it's good for competition'. My response would have been to say, 'I agree, now let's work out a way we can do it that is fair and safe for passengers and for drivers'."

"Instead they didn't do it. They gave the single finger salute to the commission and to the government."

"I don't mind the competition, the competition is great. But we do have in place regulations designed to ensure the safety of passengers and the safety of drivers."

The TSC has issued a total of 37 infringement notices to UberX drivers in Melbourne, worth roughly $1,700 each, which Samuel said Uber had agreed to pay. However, the Commission has said it will now prosecute those who flout the authorities and continue to drive for UberX.

"We've got some second repeat offenders and it's our intention to prosecute them," said Samuel. "The fine then potentially goes up to about $8,000 for an offence...[and] the magistrate has discretion to record a criminal conviction against the driver's name.

Samuel also went on record saying that Uber had admitted it knew there would be problems with its ridesharing service.

"Uber actually said to us, 'It's not a case of "if". We know there will be a problem, there will be some misconduct. There will be a driver that is assaulted or a driver will engage in misconduct with a passenger'.

"And then I said, 'Uber, the problem will be it will be your fault. You didn't sit down with us and work out a way of dealing with this that complies with the safety and public interest laws that we've got'.

"If Uber had dealt with this properly, we could have facilitated the licensing of the vehicles. Unfortunately they've just made life hard for themselves."