Cost of bad regulation increased by excessive enforcement against Uber drivers & riders

When the Queensland Government announced its personalised transport review, I hoped that Transport and Main Roads (TMR) would turn a blind eye to Uber. It seemed obvious the Government would eventually legalise Uber, so why continue to deny consumers and waste taxpayers’ money cracking down on Uber? Indeed, as I’ve noted on this blog many times, the current regulations are costly economically, and we would be better off if they were not enforced (see e.g. Cracking down on Uber would come at a high cost to the Qld community).

But, alas, TMR appears to have stepped up its enforcement effort, and a highly regarded, high achieving young university student I know claims he was harassed in the early hours of this morning by a public official. Here is an excerpt from an account of the incident he provided me:

“I booked an Uber from Roma Street Train Station last night to take me home to Kangaroo Point. I was picked up by a really nice driver. I noticed a car that was nearby when I entered [the driver’s] vehicle that had ‘traffic management’ on the side, but thought it was merely a government roadworks vehicle. As we drove towards the Story Bridge the traffic management vehicle flashed its lights…We continued driving across the bridge, and I suggested to [the driver] that I didn’t want to cause him any problems and I was happy to do what he thought was best. He asked if I was happy for him to drop me outside the Story Bridge Hotel and I said that was fine.

It was around 1am at this point when I exited the car. As soon as I got out of the car, an officer exited the traffic management vehicle and physically intimidated me and prevented me from continuing on my walk home. He showed me an identification on his shirt but I did not read it. I can’t recall any clear uniform on the official; there may have been but it was not clear to me at the time. He asked me if I had just got out of an Uber. I asked what his authority was to ask me questions and he merely showed me his identification badge again, without explaining his powers or my rights in relation to answering his questions. He did not supply a reason for questioning me or state his suspicion of my involvement in an offence.”

Eventually, the young man complied with the official’s request to supply his ID. The young man also allowed the official to take photos of the receipt for the trip on his phone, after which the young man was allowed to go home. He is rightly concerned that the Queensland public has not been adequately informed about the powers of officials who are not police officers to compel them to provide information:

“The fact that anyone other than a police officer has the power to stop and harass a citizen as they get out of a car and walk along the footpath near their home is beyond me…There is a huge disconnect between what the law is in Queensland and what the public believe the law is, or believe the law ought to be. This is a huge problem in any situation, but even more of an issue when these ride-sharing laws provide outrageously broad enforcement powers to unrecognisable government officials that are not police officers.”

Jim Varghese cannot finalise his personalised transport review quickly enough. The current regulations and the aggressive enforcement of them are very costly to our community.


A Qld university student claims he was harassed by a public official after hopping out of an Uber at the Story Bridge Hotel

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8 Responses to Cost of bad regulation increased by excessive enforcement against Uber drivers & riders

  1. Carol says:

    The sooner Uber is legalised the better. Bullying and intimidating members of the public is not at all acceptable.

  2. Glen says:

    This is govt gone mad, I wasn’t aware Dept transport officials had any capacity to question a driver regarding a matter other than the performance and compliance of a vehicle, in this case as a passenger the official has no authorisation to question the man in your story, particularly after he had left the vehicle and was now on public space. It is exactly the same reason Transport officers can’t operate speed cameras, they are not authorised to as a matter of law. Interesting he chose a young person who is probably not aware of their rights and would be less likely to question the transport official, as someone older would have done. If it was me I would have told him where to go, but I am big and ugly and used to bounce people off walls for a living, the young man thought he was doing the right thing. It would be interesting to get a legal perspective and I know the police would,be very nervous about govt officals stopping members of the public in the streets at all hours of the night in a harassing and intimidating manner. Even as an MP on a defence base years ago we were still very limited in what we could do and limited enforcement, we always had to call state based police. This deserves further investigation.

  3. Katrina Drake says:

    Very concerning indeed !

    Very concerning also is where all this ‘disruption’ technology is leading in terms of unsecure employment.

    Uber & Airtasker – seems to be a race towards minimum wages and limited employment conditions.

    Freelancer – seems to be the goto place for forgery of payslips, bank statements and CV’s.

    Very hard to protect people from themselves.

  4. Jim says:


    “Jim Varghese cannot finalise his personalised transport review quickly enough.” Clearly you have much greater faith than me that Jim Varghese will come up with an even remotely sensible set of recommendations. The earlier documentation from the review doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that the analysis underpinning the review is even remotely robust. Without robust analysis, how will he come up with sensible recommendations?

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