Australian Taxation Office

The Australian Taxation Office is an Australian Government statutory agency and the principal revenue collection body for the Australian Government. The ATO has responsibility for administering the Australian federal taxation system and superannuation legislation. Responsibility for the operations of the ATO are within the portfolio of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia.As the Australian Government's principal revenue collection body, the ATO collects income tax, Goods & Services Tax and other federal taxes for the government. The ATO also has responsibility for managing the Australian Business Register, delivering the Higher Education Loan Programme, delivering many Australian Government payments and administering key components of Australia's superannuation system. Wikipedia.

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News Article | April 29, 2017

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google said it will challenge amended tax assessments issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which is trying to claw back billions of dollars from multinational corporations citing unpaid taxes.

News Article | April 21, 2017

Multinational energy group Chevron has been left with an increased tax bill of $340m after losing an appeal in a landmark profit-shifting case. The full federal court unanimously upheld a decision on Friday that Chevron engaged in transfer pricing by paying a higher rate of interest on a loan from its subsidiary to shift profits from Australia to the United States. The decision will bolster the efforts of the Australian Taxation Office to crack down on profit-shifting through hundreds of billions of dollars of related-party loans by multinationals. Chevron has reserved its right to appeal to the high court. The tax dispute relates to an assessment by the ATO that increased Chevron’s tax bill for the years 2004 to 2008 by $340m, which was upheld by the federal court in October. The federal court found that a US entity was set up to borrow funds at a rate of 1.2% to lend them to its Australian parent, Chevron Australia Holdings Pty Ltd, at an interest rate of about 9%. Justice Tony Pagone said the effect of the internal financing structure was to reduce Chevron’s Australian taxable income by claiming interest payments as deductions. Justice James Allsop agreed with the trial judge that the $2.5bn loan was chosen because it “was the most tax efficient corporate capital structure and gave the best after tax result for the Chevron group”. Allsop said that if the loan between the related parties had been independent and at arm’s length, Chevron would have provided a guarantee over the loan, securing finance at a rate “significantly below 9%”. Jason Ward, a spokesman for the Tax Justice Network, said the decision was “an important victory for the ATO and the Australian people”. “It sends a clear message to Chevron and other multinationals that these tax dodging schemes will no longer be tolerated. “We hope this will force Chevron to restructure their current $42bn loan so that Australians won’t be cheated out of tens of billions in future tax revenue in a scheme even more damaging than the one in this court case.” A spokesman for Chevron said the company was disappointed with the court’s decision. “We will review the decision to determine next steps, which may include an appeal to the High Court of Australia,” he said. “As recognised by the trial court in the dispute, the financing is a legitimate business arrangement and the parties differ only in their assessments of the appropriate interest rate to apply.” In December 2016, a Tax Justice Network analysis of ATO data showed that for the second year running Chevron had paid no corporate tax. The Chevron spokesman said the company “pays a substantial amount of tax in Australia”, citing payroll and fringe benefits tax among others, including royalties – which are not a tax but the price paid for resources. “Since 2009, we’ve paid almost $4bn in federal and state taxes and royalties,” he said. Ward said the decision should spur the government to reform the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax because “if Chevron is proven to have rigged their income-tax payments, why would they not do the same on the profit based PRRT tax?”.

News Article | May 10, 2017

Scaled Agile, Inc. (SAI), provider of SAFe®, the world’s leading framework for enterprise agility, today announced the induction of four new Fellows into the SAFe Fellow program: Mark Richards, Em Campbell-Pretty, Eric Willeke, and Harry Koehnemann, Ph.D. The SAFe Fellow achievement is Scaled Agile’s most prestigious distinction, recognizing individuals who have exhibited the highest level of mastery and thought leadership in the practice of SAFe. The four inductees have met the SAFe Fellow requirements based on their ongoing contribution to the evolution of the Framework, their demonstrated success in a broad range of implementations, and their willingness to share their expertise publicly through writing and speaking. “The SAFe Fellow program represents the ultimate achievement for those looking to advance Lean-Agile methods at enterprise scale with SAFe,” says Dean Leffingwell, creator of SAFe and Chief Methodologist. “If we are in a challenging situation—whether puzzling over the next generation framework or struggling to optimize a SAFe implementation—the Fellows are the folks we turn to.” Achieving SAFe Fellow status is a journey that requires years of practice and contribution. Prospective SAFe Fellows must be nominated by two existing Fellows, reviewed by all existing Fellows, and then finalized by the SAFe Fellow Nomination Committee. “With over 70 percent of US Fortune 100 enterprises adopting SAFe practices, and nearly 120,000 individuals trained and certified, the demand for high-level expertise and thought leadership has been enormous,” says Drew Jemilo, cofounder of Scaled Agile and SAFe Fellow Program Director. “The SAFe Fellow program is a key aspect of our enterprise enablement strategy, especially when it comes to supporting enterprises tackling highly complex and challenging implementations.” Scaled Agile is pleased to welcome the newest members of the program: —Mark Richards, SPCT, Partner, Context Matters Richards has been involved with SAFe since its inception, with a demonstrated commitment to remaining on the leading edge of the Agile Release Train (ART). He coached Australia’s first SAFe implementation at Telstra and has enabled successful implementations across the federal government, telecommunications, finance, insurance, and education industries. A prolific blogger (The Art of SAFe), Richards is also the developer of the widely used SAFe City simulation and has contributed to a number of areas of the Framework, most recently in the areas of metrics for SAFe and the ART Canvas in the SAFe Implementation Roadmap. —Em Campbell-Pretty, SPCT, Partner, Context Matters International speaker, avid blogger (, and author of the book, "Tribal Unity," Campbell-Pretty has led transformations for public and private companies like RMIT University, Westpac, the Australian Taxation Office, ANZ, and Telstra, where she launched Australia’s first Agile Release Train. Her work has influenced the development of the Program Kanban system and fueled numerous SAFe case studies. —Eric Willeke, SPCT, Advisor, Enterprise Agility, CA Technologies A contributor to the Framework, Willeke has worked with a broad range of Fortune 500 companies, thousands of practitioners, and key leaders in the technology, media, insurance, financial services, and healthcare industries. His personal vision—to “help everybody on a project sleep better at night”—has shaped his passion for continuous improvement and unlocking human potential. Willeke has served on the program committee for the Agile 201x conference series and was the lead editor for the Proceedings of the Lean Software and Systems Conference (LSSC) series. —Harry Koehnemann, Ph.D., SPCT, Director of Technology, 321 Gang, Inc. Koehnemann helps organizations in the aerospace, defense, automotive, and medical industries adopt Lean-Agile methods and SAFe. He played a key role in the development of SAFe 4.0 for application to Lean systems engineering. More recently, Koehnemann worked with Scaled Agile on toolkits and white papers to provide practitioners with guidance on hardware and compliance concerns when adopting SAFe. Learn more about the SAFe Fellow program at Based in Boulder, Colorado, Scaled Agile’s mission is to help system- and software-dependent enterprises achieve better outcomes, increase employee engagement, and improve business economics through adoption of Lean-Agile principles and practices based on the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®). SAI supports over 120,000 practitioners of the Framework through training, certification, consulting services, and a global partner network that reaches over 35 countries and 350 cities. As a contributing member of the Pledge 1% corporate philanthropy movement, SAI also seeks to inspire, facilitate, and encourage other companies to make a positive impact in their community. Learn about Scaled Agile, and the Scaled Agile Framework, at and

BURLINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) today announced that it has received the highest combined rating amongst Intelligent Assistant and bot vendors in the newly-published report by Opus Research, “Decision Makers’ Guide to Enterprise Intelligent Assistants.”* Nuance outscored all other Intelligent Assistant (IA) and bot vendors that were evaluated and ranked highest for its intelligent virtual assistant, underscoring Nuance’s leadership in the industry. Nuance brings a unique omni-channel customer engagement platform to the table that combines the best in self- and assisted-service, enabling a seamless collaboration between human agents and artificially-intelligent virtual assistants to drive better customer service outcomes. In the February 2017 report, Opus Research addresses the importance and value of a virtual assistant/bot strategy for enterprises, stating “successful IA implementations reduce operating costs while improving customer experience and customer satisfaction scores by automating the handling of routine queries and optimizing person-to-person for both agent and customer when interactions require a human touch.” Drawing attention to the rapid IA adoption, “Opus foresees explosive growth of the industry poised to blast through $1 billion in 2016, on the way to $4.5 billion globally by 2021.” The report presents a comprehensive assessment of the current IA and bot solution provider landscape with special focus on vendors offering “enterprise-grade” solutions. Included within is a solution provider comparison chart to help decision-makers evaluate how current enterprise solutions fulfill the requirements of IA. Using a rating system based on Gold, Silver, and Bronze, Opus Research assesses each vendor’s product offerings across seven different criteria, including: Automated Learning, Process Automation, Human Involvement, Analytics & Reporting, Multi-Channel, Track Record, and Affordability/Speed to Deploy. Nuance is awarded a Gold standing in six out of seven categories, the highest combined rating amongst all of the vendors that were evaluated. “The report provides tools and a framework for decision makers to compare the leading solutions providers according to criteria that have direct impact on customer experience and operational efficiencies,” explained Dan Miller, Lead Analyst at Opus Research. “This is especially important as Enterprise Intelligent Assistants grow into their role as focal point in omni-channel self-service.” “It is a great honor to be recognized as the highest ranked provider of virtual assistants by Opus Research,” said Robert Weideman, general manager and executive vice president, Enterprise Division, Nuance. “Nina was introduced by Nuance more than four years ago as one of the first virtual assistants for customer service based on our ongoing work in artificial intelligence and since that time we have innovated alongside the world’s leading brands to deliver the intelligent, personalized, and engaging service that consumers expect.” Nina leverages Nuance’s unparalleled technology leadership and expertise in voice, NLU, conversational dialogue and advanced resolution techniques to deliver a compelling, omni-channel, self- and assisted- customer service experience for the consumer and the enterprise. Nuance Nina has been adopted globally by large organizations such as Australian Taxation Office, Coca-Cola, Domino’s, Garanti Bank, ING Netherlands, IP Australia, Jetstar, Swedbank, Tangerine Bank, USAA, and Windstream. To view a sample or purchase a copy of the report, click here. For more information about Nuance’s Nina, please click here. *Opus Research “Decision Makers’ Guide to Enterprise Intelligent Assistants” by Dan Miller, Derek Top, and Amy Stapleton, February 2017. About Nuance Communications, Inc. Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications. For more information, please visit Trademark reference: Nuance and the Nuance logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Nuance Communications, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners.

News Article | February 17, 2017

Uber has always sat in a weird place in terms of regulation. It doesn't consider itself an employer, but it employs thousands of "driver partners" around the world. It has a presence in Australia, but it's not based in Australia for tax purposes. Think of it kind of like Schroedinger's Cab. But the company has now been hit with a pretty clear label when it comes to paying taxes, after the Federal Court of Australia ruled that UberX ridesharing is classified as a "taxi service" when it comes to paying tax. It's another regulation slapped on a company that has been pushing back against the way its business has been classified around the world. Uber appeared in front of the European Court of Justice last year, claiming it was a software company, not a taxi service. It also faced a ruling from a London court in 2016, determining that its drivers should be classified as employees, not independent contractors. The company first applied to the Australian Federal Court in 2015 to contest an order by the Australian Taxation Office, calling on UberX drivers to pay a 10 percent Goods and Service Tax. The GST is levied on the majority of goods and services sold in Australia. Uber tried to argue that UberX was not the same as a taxi or limousine service, which are required to pay GST, claiming that cars are not marked as taxis, drivers do not wear uniforms and they cannot accept fares off the street. But the Judge presiding on the case deemed that one of the driver partners mentioned in proceedings, Brian Colin Fine, was in fact offering taxi travel through UberX. "I consider that, on 11 September 2015, Mr Fine was supplying taxi travel as defined in... the GST Act when he was operating as an UberX Partner. That is because I consider that, at that time, he was supplying travel that involved transporting passengers by taxi for fares." Furthermore, the court ruled that Uber couldn't claim Mr Fine was offering a limousine service, throwing in a pretty backhanded insult about his car in the process. "I consider that the Honda Civic vehicle which he used on the relevant day is not a luxury car, with the consequence that Mr Fine was not on that day supplying a service which involved travel by limousine." CNET Magazine: Check out a sampling of the stories you'll find in CNET's newsstand edition. Life, Disrupted: In Europe, millions of refugees are still searching for a safe place to settle. Tech should be part of the solution. But is it? CNET investigates.

BURLINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) today announced that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has integrated Nuance’s intelligent virtual assistant, Nina, within the organization’s website. This is another important step on the ATO’s path to transform the online experience for customers by improving their ability to self-serve. In an age where customers are continuously seeking advanced tools for self-service and automation, Nuance’s virtual assistant solution, Nina, offers the ATO’s customers the option to have their questions answered by Alex at Alex provides tailored responses to customer queries using natural language understanding, conversational dialogue and advanced resolution techniques, to answer hundreds of commonly asked questions across a range of categories. This allows agents to spend more time managing complex requests. Since March 2016, more than 950,000 conversations have taken place with Alex, with steady monthly increases occurring from July through to October as many Australian’s focus on submitting their tax returns. The virtual assistant will continue to evolve in its contextual conversations with customers as more people interact with it on a daily basis. “We’re thrilled to provide the ATO with the next phase of intelligent automation technology to foster a seamless and efficient experience for the many customers utilizing the ATO’s online services, day-in and day-out.,” said Robert Schwarz, managing director for Nuance Enterprise, Australia and New Zealand. Initial results show first contact resolution rates of 80 per cent with the ATO’s new virtual assistant Alex, which exceed the industry benchmark of 60-65 per cent. These strong initial results demonstrate an efficient and effective customer experience, indicating that the majority of customer queries are being answered by the virtual assistant. The implementation of Nuance’s intelligent virtual assistant follows the ATO’s use of Nuance voice biometrics across its call center and mobile applications. By providing customers with enhanced, more secure authentication using voice biometrics, the ATO is signifying a proactive step towards enhancing digital services, with over 2.4 million customers enrolled. For more information about Nuance’s Nina, please visit: About Nuance Communications, Inc. Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications. For more information, please visit Trademark reference: Nuance and the Nuance logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Nuance Communications, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners.

News Article | December 22, 2016

The federal resources minister has accused the ABC of reporting fake news and thrown his weight behind the energy giant Adani, amid Indian finance ministry investigations into the company. Matt Canavan attacked the ABC for what he described as one-sided coverage of Adani’s plans to build Australia’s biggest coalmine and accused the national broadcaster of having a massive blindspot when it came to the project. The Liberal National party senator from Queensland also said the Adani Carmichael coalmine would improve the environment in central Queensland by setting aside land for birdlife and returning water to the Great Artesian basin. The ABC has run a series of reports around the complex Adani network, including reports of allegations against the ultimate parent company, Adani Enterprises Limited. From the outset of the interview with Kim Landers on the ABC radio program AM, Canavan attacked the broadcaster’s coverage on Adani in the past week. “So many of your reports have been nothing but fake news,” he said. Canavan said the ABC had given no voice to the people of north Queensland in its reports over the mine in the Galilee basin and ABC audiences would not know that the biggest issue in region was a lack of jobs. Asked if he was aware of the investigation by the Indian finance ministry into Adani, Canavan said he had asked the department for advice about it. “As your story indicated, there are no findings at this stage on this investigation,” the minister said. “It’s not unusual, of course, for tax authorities and others to investigate large companies, as has happened in this country with many companies and have involved large settlements with the Australian Taxation Office. “But I don’t know the status of these allegations apart from the fact that they remain allegations.” The Coalition is considering a $1bn loan for a railway for Adani through its Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund (Naif). Canavan said he would take advice from the “independent skills-based board” established to assess projects. He said the issue of whether the government held off on the loan application – until Indian finance ministry investigations into the company were completed – was a matter for Naif. Canavan said he was very confident in the Naif board and his department had advised there was nothing in Adani’s company structure that was inconsistent with Australian laws. “I’m very confident that the Adani project, hopefully it will happen, it will deliver billions of dollars of taxes to both the Queensland and Australian governments,” Canavan said. “Those taxes will go to fund things like the ABC and the good work you do do – and you do do a lot of good work – but we’ve all got our blind spots, Kim, and unfortunately the ABC has a massive one here on this project.” Asked whether the Cayman islands structure had been assessed by the government, Canavan said he welcomed Adani’s decision to have a head office in north Queensland – in Townsville. And he contrasted the decision with the ABC, accusing the organisation of leaving central Queensland without cover by moving a video journalist from Rockhampton to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. “It’s unfortunate that the ABC had an unhappy milestone recently, with more than 50% of your staff are based in Sydney,” he said. “Maybe that does colour your reporting on issues like this?” The ABC’s annual report shows 53.6 % of its full-time-equivalent staff are in New South Wales. The minister said the federal government had placed 36 strict conditions on the Adani project, and predicted the company would improve the environment by setting aside areas and using high-quality coal to displace lower-quality coal. “They will do things that will improve the environment here in central Queensland and they’ll protect an additional 31,000 hectares for the black-throated finch,” Canavan said. “They will limit the drawdown on the springs in the area and also return water to the Great Artesian basin – around 730 megalitres a year. “So these are very strict conditions and this project will be a net environmental plus for the world. Not only will it protect the environment here in central Queensland, it’ll also be using very high-quality coal, which will displace coal that is not as high quality in India or Indonesia, and it’ll be a good thing for the environment.” The Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, said Canavan’s comments showed the “lunatic fringe” was in power. “For Matt Canavan to suggest that Adani’s Carmichael coalmine will be good for the environment, in contrast to all scientific evidence, shows that the lunatic fringe of the Turnbull government is running the show,” Di Natale said. “Matt Canavan’s comments are an embarrassment and if [the prime minister] Malcolm Turnbull is serious about tackling dangerous climate change he will give Australia an early Christmas present by stopping the Adani coalmine from opening and stopping Matt Canavan from opening his mouth.” A spokesman for the ABC said Rockhampton would still have three ABC news reporters, plus two other broadcast journalists and a camera operator who contributed to a range of programs and platforms. “The Sunshine Coast, the second-fastest growing region in Queensland, has two [reporters] and is severely restricted in its ability to produce news and TV stories relevant to its local area and a wider regional audience,” the spokesman said. “Capricornia remains a well-resourced bureau and maintains a larger news team, as well as two other reporters outside of the news team, who can produce television and video news stories. It will also continue to have a dedicated camera operator.”

Uber has taken a heavy blow in Australia and as a result, its fare prices could see a significant increase. It's no big secret that Uber is not a traditional employer, as it classifies its drivers as individual contractors rather than actual employees. For that reason, most jurisdictions don't treat Uber as a taxi service when it comes to tax purposes. An Australian court, however, has now ruled that Uber is a taxi service, therefore its drivers would have to pay service tax, local publication Sydney Morning Herald reports. More specifically, this ruling means that Uber drivers in Australia will have to pay a 10 percent goods and services tax (GST) on trips, on top of the commission they already pay Uber. Uber has been trying to fight this since 2015, when the Australian Taxation Office first required the company's drivers to pay GST. That decision placed Uber drivers on par with taxi drivers and classified Uber as a taxi service. Uber appealed the decision and argued that its drivers don't wear uniforms, don't pick up random passengers from the street and don't have cab stands, therefore they should not be classified as taxi drivers. The Tax Office said the "taxi" term encompassed all vehicles for hire transporting passengers from one place to another in exchange for a fare, not just the yellow-painted vehicles with taxi meters. The Australian Federal Court has now sided against Uber as well and ruled that Uber is indeed operating as a taxi service, and its drivers act as taxi drivers. Simply put, Uber is now back to square one. "Uber had fought an 18-month battle to avoid GST, but will now need to work out how to apply the ruling to its 50,000-plus partner-drivers," The Sydney Morning Herald points out. While bad news for Uber and its drivers, the Australian court's decision marks a big win for the government. The GST requirements also involve a certain threshold. Companies with an annual turnover of less than $75,000 don't have to register to pay GST, and Uber argues that most drivers' annual earnings are below $20,000. At the same time, taxi services make up an exception from this rule. Regardless of how much they earn in a year, taxi drivers have to pay GST. Classifying Uber drivers as taxi drivers means they're no longer exempt from the tax. Being classified as individual contractors already meant that Uber drivers had to handle their own taxes, and the extra GST costs fall on their shoulders as well. The taxi industry, meanwhile, welcomes the ruling, especially since it's been losing ground to Uber and other similar services. "UberX drivers cannot expect to be treated as though they operate in a tax-free zone," said Blair Davies, the head of the Australian Taxi Industry Association. They should pay tax just like their taxi driver counterparts." It remains to be seen whether Uber will challenge this decision, but a company spokesperson said it will offer more information to drivers as soon as possible. With this new ruling that forces Uber drivers in Australia to register and pay GST on top of what they pay Uber, there's a good chance that fare prices will see a significant increase to offset the additional costs. Uber has yet to make a statement in this regard, but we'll keep you up to date as soon as it does. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

News Article | November 3, 2015

The Australian Taxation Office has been targeted more than 11,000 times by identity fraudsters attempting to steal tax refunds in the 2014-2015 financial year. And a help-service for victims of identity crime says it is being inundated with taxpayers whose IDs have been hijacked and their tax returns robbed. The 11,000 attempts at ID fraud are part of the wider picture of 91,000 "revenue fraud incidents" recorded on the ATO's systems in 2014-2015. Only the efforts that were detected and foiled are recorded, according to the agency, with the full extent of successful frauds unclear. But iDcare, a service that helps victims rebuild their identities after they have been stolen, says the volume of calls for help it is currently receiving indicates that criminals are reaping a tax-time bonanza from unsuspecting taxpayers. Managing director Dave Lacey said his staff had dealt with at least 400 cases this financial year involving tax refund theft. He said taxpayer money was being lost as the ATO's process was typically to determine an initial refund was fraudulent and then reissue the funds to the victim. "We're in tax fraud season at the moment. It's organised crime. It's big business. This has been going on for months now," he said. Mr Lacey said the biggest impact on victims was often not the initial financial loss but the effect identity theft had on their mental health, with one in five - almost one in four - requiring ongoing mental health support. He said this was largely because of how victims were treated by government agencies and organisations when they tried to follow up on the fraud, seek answers for how it occurred and re-establish themselves. "We test these things continuously and regrettably the standards are very low," Mr Lacey said. Fairfax Media revealed last week that sophisticated cyber-crims had managed to penetrate employers' payroll systems, making off with detailed information on unsuspecting workers and using the data to lodge bogus tax returns. Other victims have told how their legitimate tax refunds had been siphoned off into bank accounts operated by the fraudsters after fake MyGov profiles had been built by the thieves. The ATO says it stopped about $9 million in refunds going out in 2014-2015 after finding they had been fraudulently claimed and the previous year the figure was even higher, with $17 million prevented from being paid amid 18,000 attempts at ID fraud. Victims have complained about a lack of police follow-up, but an ATO spokeswoman said the agency had its own investigators who teamed up with the Australian Federal Police when frontline police powers were needed. "The ATO maintains a criminal investigation capability that investigates significant tax crime matters, which includes identity crime enabled refund fraud and refers briefs of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration and prosecution," the spokeswoman said. "The AFP executes search warrants in support of ATO investigations and the ATO refers matters to the AFP for investigation when AFP capabilities are required." Do you know more? Email

News Article | September 28, 2015

The NSW Government has suspended the licences of 40 Sydney drivers. The director of safety and compliance at the NSW Roads and Maritime Service, Peter Wells, said ride-sharing services were illegal and the Government had to ensure compliance with regulations, reported the ABC. However Uber, which says it has signed up a million Australian users, has fans in high places. In May, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed the service as an example of how the economy could be more “agile” while consumer body Choice has said Uber is just as safe as regular taxis. The controversy is focused on the UberX ride sharing service which enables private car owners, albeit with third-party insurance and GPS tracking, to offer lifts to the public via the Uber app bypassing cabs altogether. “Taxi and hire car services in NSW must be provided by an operator accredited by Roads and Maritime, in a licensed and insured vehicle which is driven by an authorised driver,” Mr Wells said. “If drivers continue to offer illegal ride sharing services — they will continue to risk registration suspensions and fines,” reported the ABC. Mr Wells said that the drivers would be barred from using their vehicles for three months from September 30 and if the car was found on the road the owner could be slugged with a fine of up to $2200 for each offence. Uber said in a statement that it was “shocked that the Roads and Maritime Services did not appear to show these drivers any due process”. “We are reviewing the legal options to reverse this decision,” it said in the statement. Uber has said UberX turns car owners into small business people and allows them to earn extra income while providing a better service than cabs. But an enraged taxi industry has hit back and said UberX drivers undercut fares by avoiding about $50,000 in regulatory fees and are potentially unsafe. Michael Jools from the Australian Taxi Drivers Association told earlier this month that it wasn’t just UberX drivers who were acting against the law — Uber might be as well. “I think Uber is unlawful because it is very much involved in the whole exercise. They say they are merely a technology platform providing an app that people use and that they have nothing to do with how it’s used. “What we are trying to do is have the court declare that Uber is operating illegally, and therefore it must stop,” he said. Attempts by Uber to have the case thrown out of court failed on Friday. Uber is now fighting fires on multiple fronts. Earlier this year, the Australian Taxation Office ordered UberX drivers to charge GST, potentially leading to higher fares. Uber argued that, like many small business people, drivers shouldn’t have to pay tax on income below $75,000. The tax office disagreed and said UberX drivers were no different to cabbies and had to pay GST on all their fares. But Uber has its backers. A report for the Queensland Government by the Economic Policy Group, and obtained by Uber under right to information laws, said banning new entrants into the taxi market was costing Australians dear. “Brisbane consumers were worse off by $40 million a year from restricting Brisbane taxi numbers,” the paper, which was given to the ABC, said. “The damage to the Queensland economy from this kind of over regulation is easy to see and will continue to cause significant economic costs until the constraints on supply are removed.” The Taxi Council of Queensland dismissed the report. Tourism chiefs say market ‘disrupters’ like Uber and accommodation site Airbnb were essential to boost visitor numbers to Australia. While, last week, a study by Choice showed Uber was safe, reliable and, in most cases, cheaper than cabs. “It’s easy to see why the taxi industry is scared of Uber,” said Choice’s Tom Godfrey. “Not because of safety issues, but because of the threat to their profits and their outdated business model.” Uber has said it’s keen for its services to be regulated — just not as regular taxis. Instead, it has suggested to the NSW Government that UberX drivers should face less onerous licence conditions in return for not hailing on streets or taking advanced bookings. However, with the Uber app now a staple feature of many smartphones, the taxi industry is unlikely to give up without a fight. The next battle looms in October when the NSW Government hands down the findings of a taskforce charged with investigating the future of the state’s taxi, hire car and ride sharing industry. “We understand that new technology is disruptive but we believe there is a way forward that provides new economic opportunities for all drivers, including taxi drivers, and choice for riders who love the convenience of services like Uber,” an Uber spokesman told earlier this month.

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