Uber competitor launches in Brisbane under new laws

SEPTEMBER 4 2016 – 11:04PM

Drew Creighton

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New competition to Queensland’s taxi services and Uber will be launched in Brisbane on Monday, coinciding with the legalisation of ride-sharing apps in the the state.

The company, GoCatch, waited for the state to legalise ride-sharing before it entered the market.

GoCatch chief executive Ned Moorfield says its ride-sharing service will remain cheaper than Uber.
GoCatch chief executive Ned Moorfield says its ride-sharing service will remain cheaper than Uber. 

The Sydney-based start-up has previously warned a failure to legalise ride-sharing in the state risked Uber becoming a monopoly in the market.

The service will use the previously existing GoCatch taxi booking app and it will allow users to choose between booking a taxi or the ride-sharing service.

The company has several points of difference to Uber including the removal of surcharge pricing seen with the dominant service.

Instead of surcharges, it will have peak pricing charges 45 per cent higher than off-peak prices and the company will also charge drivers a commission 5 per cent less than Uber.

GoCatch has also partnered with Qantas to offer Frequent Flyer points matching dollar for dollar.

The company’s move into the state was made possible by the state government making ride-sharing legal in the state from September 5.

Legal ride-sharing services face new regulations that bring them into line with taxis, including background checks.

Since the launch of Uber in 2014, ride-sharing has not been legal in the state and the company faced an uphill battle with taxi companies and members of parliament for almost two years.

Now the legal tussle is over, Queenslanders could see an influx of new ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Backseat hit the streets.

The taxi market in Australia is worth $5.4 billion and tech companies such as GoCatch have been waiting for the green light to start competing in the country-wide market.

Investors for the app include Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s son Alex, James Packer and Airtasker co-founder Tim Fung.


Source : Brisbane Times

Neill Wagner fined for landing helicopter at Downey Park

AUGUST 29 2016 – 11:55AM

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One of Queensland’s richest men has been slapped with a $1000 fine for landing his chopper in a Brisbane park.

Millionaire Neill Wagner faced Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday after being charged by the Brisbane City Council with undertaking a prohibited activity.

Millionaire Neill Wagner diverted to a nearby park when he discovered he couldn't land on a field at Ballymore.
Millionaire Neill Wagner diverted to a nearby park when he discovered he couldn’t land on a field at Ballymore. 

The charge related to an incident in which Mr Wagner, one of four brothers in a family that owns a multimillion-dollar Toowoomba-based construction company and an airport, landed his helicopter at Downey Park, in March 2015.

The court heard Mr Wagner was told to land immediately by air traffic control and given permission but when he got to the spare field at Ballymore, in Brisbane’s inner-north, there were people on it so he made the decision to land at the nearby park instead.

Neill Wagner's business empire includes an airport.
Neill Wagner’s business empire includes an airport. Photo: Robert Rough RNR

The businessman pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $1000 plus $845 in court costs.

He did not speak to waiting media as he left the court precinct.


Source : Brisbane Times

Who gets fined in a driverless car … and 700 other legal barriers

AUGUST 18 2016

Cameron Atfield

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Australia must prepare for a transport revolution unseen since the car surpassed the horse and cart, and planners have been told they must be ready.

But while a proliferation of driverless cars was still some years away, the Local Government Association of Queensland’s 2016 Future Cities Summit heard councils should already be planning for their arrival.

The car of the future is well on its way.
The car of the future is well on its way. Photo: Supplied

National Transport Commission chief planning officer Michelle Hendy said her organisation had identified 716 legislative barriers to automated vehicles that would have to be overcome.

Ms Hendy said the NTC had been working for the past 12 months to prepare Australia’s transport system for more automated vehicles.

“One of the biggest challenges for automated vehicle regulation in Australia – as it is in every other part of the world – is to have consistent regulations between states and territories while also reflecting what’s happening in terms of best practice regulation internationally,” she said.

“The last thing we want is for automated vehicles to have to stop at state borders because they don’t meet the regulations of the neighbouring state.

“When mobile phones came into this country, we didn’t have different plans for Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and anywhere else.”

What was clear, according to the experts at the LGAQ conference, was that the arrival of mass-produced automated vehicles was a matter of when, not if.

ARRB Group national technical leader Charles Karl said while automated vehicles would, in all likelihood, travel at lower speeds than conventional vehicles, that could still be a financial benefit.

“As a passenger, you’ve got time to do a lot more things, so the cost of the travel is actually less because you’re much more productive,” he said.

Ms Hendy said that was still several years away, but there were still legislative changes governments should make in the short term to expedite the process.

“(Trials) are going to actually give us a lot of information about the type of sensors and automation required, the sort of geomapping required,” she said.

“We don’t know whether geomapping will start first in our major cities and whether it will be sufficient enough to also work in different rural and regional areas.

“So, there’s an awful lot of testing to be done and that’s why the first part of the recommendations we’re going to put to ministers this November is really about the short-term priorities, over the next 12 months to two years.

“We have to support the on-road trials of the technology and we can do that through exemptions to the current laws.”

Alphabet Fleet e-mobility manager Bede Doherty said he could see a future where cities’ public transport systems were run by automated vehicles and delivered at a faster rate.

“Just imagine if one had a 10-seater autonomous pod running down what used to be a bus route,” he said.

“It only takes 10 people so instead of having one every 30 minutes that can take 100 people, you’d have one every five minutes that’s autonomous.

“So it’s cheaper, it’s more frequent, it removes the need for timetables.”


Source : Brisbane Times

Government may miss out on Uber fines windfall

AUGUST 13 2016

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Uber drivers have been pinged $2 million in less than four months but the Queensland government looks likely to miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in fine revenue.

More than $700,000 in fines to Uber drivers from the latest enforcement spree had already flowed into state coffers by the time Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced plans on Thursday to legalise the service.

But it’s understood the government won’t hunt down the remainder of the fines issued for illegally providing a taxi service, leaving a shortfall of more than $1.2 million from the $2,014,380 total.

The latest figures come as the government defends a $100 million assistance package for the taxi industry from attacks on both side

For Taxi Council Queensland it’s not enough, at the end of a “farcical” review. But the LNP, which has yet to broadly outline its own response, has criticised the payout as another raid on the “cookie jar”.

Taxi drivers rallied outside Parliament House on Friday, amid some claims the ride-share rival’s legalisation from September 5 would mean the end of the industry.

“The Transport Minister just made us bankrupt,” said driver Manjit Boparai, who bought his taxi licence for $310,000 four years ago.

Average licence values in Brisbane have halved from a high of $519,000 in 2014 and owners are generally unhappy with the $40,000 “one-off” payments for existing licence owners.

Queensland Taxi Council is continuing to pressure the state government over legalization of Uber.

Yellow Cabs general manager Bill Parker said the industry would survive but “it’s going to get worse before it gets better”.

“When the banks decide what a licence value is, some of them have used their houses … to buy the licence,” he said.

“There’s going to be some very difficult situations for them.

“Some of them will basically lose their home and there are quite a lot of people doing it tough right now because they have mortgages to pay and school kids and all the rest of it.”

Translink officers, who were unable to undertake any covert enforcement for months until new laws passed in April, were understood to have stopped targeting Uber drivers for taxi offences on Wednesday but would continue policing car safety issues.

Ongoing enforcement captures a range of offences, with many infringement notices issued for safety and other non-taxi related regulations,” a Translink spokesman said.

“Enforcement will continue, and infringement notices will be issued at the discretion of enforcement officials.”

Since the Katter’s Australian Party-led laws drastically increased fines and made issuing fines easier, 943 infringement notices have been issued to 738 drivers, with several fined more than once.

The vast majority (855) of those were for providing a taxi service without a taxi but other fines included failing to carry a Driver’s Authorisation, failing to produce a licence and driving an unregistered vehicle, according to Translink.

Total fines issued to Uber drivers, including for non-taxi offences, hit $2,051,525 on Wednesday, with $755,178 paid to date.


Source : Brisbane Times

Rescue helicopter delivers injured woman to hospital

July 3 2016 – 1:54PM

Toby Crockford

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The RACQ rescue helicopter has arrived at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and delivered the 18-year-old female who fell six metres on Mount Tibrogargan on Sunday morning.

An RACQ Careflight spokesperson said the victim arrived at hospital about 1.25pm and was conscious and stable.

The RACQ rescue helicopter has winched the injured 18-year-old woman off Mount Tibrogargan.
The RACQ rescue helicopter has winched the injured 18-year-old woman off Mount Tibrogargan. 
Photo: Nine News Brisbane

She was suffering multiple trauma injuries, including extensive facial injuries, limb injuries and a possible spinal injury.

The woman is from Brisbane and was climbing with friends on the standard trekking routes just before she fell.

She was winched off Mount Tibrogargan, one of the Glass House Mountains in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, about 12.30am.

A doctor on-board the helicopter and paramedics had been winched down to initially treat the woman, before she was transported to hospital.

A Queensland Police spokesperson said the 18-year-old had just started climbing the main track when she fell.

Emergency services received the call to attend the scene about 10.15am while the rescue helicopter was dispatched about 10.40am



Source : Brisbane Times

Police shoot man at Townsville service station

June 27 2016 – 9:26AM

Jorge Branoo

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A man fighting for life in hospital had been chased by police before being shot on the footpath outside a Townsville service station, the station operator says.

Police shot the man, believed to be in his 30s, about 4.20am outside United Petroleum in Hermit Park.

Police investigate after one of their colleagues shot a man at a Townsville service station.
Police investigate after one of their colleagues shot a man at a Townsville service station.  
Photo: Seven News

Paramedics said he was rushed to Townsville Hospital in a serious condition with gunshot wounds to his stomach and right leg but police confirmed he had been critical since at least 7am.

United Petroleum chief operating officer David Szymczak said the shooting was unrelated to the service station.

A man was at a Townsville service station in the early hours of Monday.
A man was at a Townsville service station in the early hours of Monday.  Photo: Seven News

“Police were chasing someone,” he said.

“They were shot on the footpath or on the road out the front of the service station.”

A police investigation of the incident will be overseen by Ethical Standards Command.

Mr Szymczak said his company would cooperate with police in any way possible but he didn’t think CCTV cameras would have captured anything happening on the footpath.

Police were unable to confirm reports five shots had been heard in the early hours of the morning, near the Charters Towers Road address.

Bernadette Ede, who works at a nearby business, said she’d never heard about any crime at the service station previously and the incident was concerning.

She said the centre had only reopened in the past month after extensive renovations lasting roughly half a year.


Police have shot a man in the stomach and leg at a Townsville service station.

The man, aged in his 30s, is in a serious condition after the drama unfolded at United Petroleum in Hermit Park about 4am on Monday.

Police said officers were called to an incident at the Charters Towers Road service station, but could not provide further details. A crime scene was established and a section of the road closed off.

The ambulance service said the man was shot in the abdomen and the right leg.

He was taken to the Townsville hospital in a serious condition.

Bernadette Ede, who works at a nearby business, said she’d never heard about any crime at the service station previously and the incident was concerning.

She said the centre had only reopened in the past month after extensive renovations lasting roughly half a year.

In a statement, police said Ethical Standards Command would oversee an investigation into the shooting.

Late Sunday, two men used a machete and a knife to hold up a Townsville convenience store, smashing the counter with the machete before demanding money and fleeing about 11.20pm.

Police said there was nothing so far to suggest any link to the shooting.


Source : Brisbane Times

Queensland to standardise sex consent laws and finally end gay discrimination

June 16 2016 – 9:25PM

Amy Remeikis

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Queensland has finally made a move to standardise the age of consent for anal sex, with Labor looking to end one of the last legal discriminations against the state’s homosexual community.

Queensland remains the only state to differentiate between vaginal and anal sex in legislation.

Queensland's consent laws hark back to the state's discriminatory past towards its LGBTIA community. Up until 1990 ...
Queensland’s consent laws hark back to the state’s discriminatory past towards its LGBTIA community. Up until 1990 homosexuality was illegal in Queensland and the Joh Bjelke-Petersen Government tried to keep it that way. Photo: Fairfax Media

For all other intercourse other than anal, the age of consent is 16. Anal intercourse, which is still referred to as the biblical name of sodomy in the law books, is not legal until 18.

The law has had wider implications, with young teenagers, particularly gay men, unable to receive advice about the act until they were over 18.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said an expert health panel charged with investigating the law’s impact found that young people “felt compelled” to withhold information about their sexual history from health workers “for fear of possible legal consequences” whether for themselves or their partner.

It’s one of the last bastions of Queensland’s discriminatory past towards its LGBTIA community, which began before Federation. Homosexuality remained illegal in the sunshine state until 1990, when the Goss Government overturned the law that the Joh Bjelke-Petersen Government had encouraged police to uphold.

Mr Dick made mention of the five Roma men who were charged under the homosexuality laws in the dying days of the 1989 National  Party Government.

“It should be noted that during the 1989 election, the National Party Premier of the time, Russell Cooper, said that the Australia Labor Party’s policy of decriminalisation of homosexuality would, as he put it, ‘send a flood of gays crossing the border from the southern states’.”

But the Goss Government, while decriminalising homosexuality, introduced an anal intercourse law which set the age of consent at 18.

Mr Dick said it was time Queensland caught up with society.

“Queensland cannot continue to discriminate between forms of sexual intercourse, particularly when we know young people felt compelled to withhold information about their sexual history from health practitioners for fear of possible legal consequences for themselves or their partner,” he told Parliament.

“This can have serious implications for their medical treatment, particularly as unprotected anal intercourse is the highest risk behaviour for transmission of HIV. It also has the effect of stigmatising same-sex relationships, which in itself can be harmful for an individual’s well being.”

The Bill not only seeks to standardise the age of consent at 16, but also omit the offence of sodomy from the criminal code “and make further consequential amendments to ensure that the concept of carnal knowledge used in the Code is extended to include anal intercourse”.

“The expert panel also advised they consider using terms such as sodomy in the criminal code may stigmatise this form of sexual activity, and homosexual relationships in particular.

“The Government has acted on this recommendation, removing archaic references to ‘sodomy’, and instead referring to ‘anal intercourse’.

“For too long, debate about sexual practise has focused on criminal and moral considerations.

“By including this information amendment in a Health Bill, the Palaszczuk Government is sending an important message – public policy debate about lawful sexual practices should be focused – first and foremost – on improving the sexual health and wellbeing of Queenslanders.”

The bill has been sent to a parliamentary committee for review. The government is also working through ways to expunge the record of those found guilty under the state’s historic homosexuality laws, for consensual acts and has made the first legislative moves to remove Homosexual Advance Defence – also known as ‘gay panic’ as a provocation defence.

Parliament resumes on Friday.


Source : Brisbane Times

Baseball bat used in Nambour home invasion

June 13 2016 – 11:35AM

Amy Mitchell-Whittington

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A man has been charged after a violent robbery at the Sunshine Coast on Friday night

Police said four men approached a home at Howard Street, Nambour, just before midnight on Friday and smashed two windows with a baseball bat before kicking in the front door.

A 19-year-old man has been charged after a violent robbery at the Sunshine Coast.
A 19-year-old man has been charged after a violent robbery at the Sunshine Coast. Photo: Supplied

Police alleged the men chased the residents, a 29-year-old man and a 36-year-old woman, through the home and demanded cash.

The woman was attacked and received minor injuries to her head and torso.

Police said the intruders then damaged a television and snatched a purse and wallet before fleeing.

Following a CCTV footage review of the address by police, a 19-year-old man was charged with three counts of wilful damage, one count each of burglary and commit indictable offences and robbery.

The man was expected to appear at the Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Monday.

Investigations were continuing.


Source : The Brisbane Times

Fake $50 notes found at Sunshine Coast bank, businesses

June 13 2016 – 11:07AM

Amy Mitchell-Whittington

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Sunshine Coast businesses and residents are being urged to remain vigilant after several reports of counterfeit currency distribution.

Police said they were aware of at least six instances of fake $50 notes being distributed at local businesses, including a bank, on the Sunshine Coast in the past week.

Fake $50 notes have been circulating on the Sunshine Coast.
Fake $50 notes have been circulating on the Sunshine Coast. Photo: Queensland Police Service

A police spokesman said the Sunshine Coast bank had found a fake $50 in a bundle of other notes.

Ths uburbs of Wurtulla, Currimundi, Aroona and Kawana Waters had been targeted so far, Detective Senior Sergeant Darren Edwards said.

Police said the fake notes seem to be made out of paper.
Police said the fake notes seem to be made out of paper. Photo: Queensland Police Service

“In many of the transactions involving counterfeit notes we are seeing use of paper, rather than the proper polymer,” Senior Sergeant Edwards said.

“The notes will rip easily and there may be some businesses who have received the notes and are yet to notify police.”

Police said there could be more fake notes circulating and have asked anyone with information relating to the distribution of these notes to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Head to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s website for more information on detecting counterfeit notes.


Source : Brisbane Times

Clive Palmer ‘taking steps’ to reopen refinery

June 13 2016 – 10:07AM

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Clive Palmer is pressing on with plans to reopen his troubled Townsville nickel refinery and says he’s on the look-out for workers.

Queensland Nickel Sales is seeking expressions of interest for future job vacancies, with Mr Palmer announcing he is “taking steps” to reopen the Yabulu operation.

Clive Palmer says 40 people are working at the Queensland Nickel refinery.
Clive Palmer says 40 people are working at the Queensland Nickel refinery. Photo: Glenn Hunt

“We have more than 40 people working at the refinery who are ascertaining the steps required to open the plant and additional work is being carried out to set a detailed reopening schedule,” Mr Palmer said in a statement on Monday.

General manager Ian Ferguson said those interested in future employment opportunities could fill out an application form from the company’s website.

“We want potential applicants to download the application and lodge their expression of interest in employment with us so we can manage the reopening of the refinery,” Mr Ferguson said.

Some 800 workers have been sacked from the nickel refinery and almost $70 million in taxpayer funds is being used to cover their unpaid entitlements.

Special purpose liquidators were last month appointed to pursue Mr Palmer’s assets to try and recoup the taxpayer funds.

The announcement to press on with re-opening the refinery comes just days after a court examination of Mr Palmer over the refinery’s collapse was delayed because his nephew is overseas.

The businessman-turned-politician and his nephew, QN’s sole appointed director Clive Mensink, were due to front the Federal Court in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Mr Palmer has repeatedly distanced himself from all decisions that led to the demise of the refinery, which went into voluntary administration in January.

Queensland Nickel Sales took over the refinery’s management in March and Mr Palmer has previously said up to 1000 jobs could be created at the operation when nickel prices recovered.



Source : Brisbane Times