Labor and the Greens have questioned why the state government is endeavouring to regulate the provision of rideshare services in Tasmania but is not imposing similarly strict rules on the short-stay accommodation sector.
The government’s nation-leading bill to “level the playing field” in the on-demand transport industry, which seeks to establish greater equity among taxi drivers, luxury hire car drivers and rideshare drivers, passed the House of Assembly unopposed and without amendment yesterday afternoon.
Rideshare providers operating in Tasmania include Uber, Ola and Shebah.
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While Labor MHAs Anita Dow and Alison Standen and Greens leader Cassy O’Connor welcomed the legislation, each of them said the same level of regulation should be applied in the short-stay accommodation space.
“I think there is a real opportunity here that the government is at risk of missing to support licensed operators in the accommodation sector of hotels and B&Bs – no different to licensed taxi owners, I don’t think, in the transport industry,” Ms Standen said.
“Because the livelihoods of those operators … and the jobs of those workers they employ have been amongst some of the hardest hit due to the decline in visitation, in particular due to the pandemic.”
Ms O’Connor said it seemed the government had an “incapacity” to sufficiently regulate short-stay accommodation in Tasmania, which she said stood “in contrast to this legislation”.
The On-Demand Passenger Transport Services Industry (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2020 attempts to address the impact that the gig economy has had on the local taxi industry.
Among the key elements of the bill are a five-year moratorium on the release of new owner-operator taxi licences by tender; the prevention of reserve prices for new taxi licences being decreased by more than 10 per cent per annum for five years and; a requirement for rideshare drivers to obtain accreditation.
Transport Minister Michael Ferguson said the legislation had originated about two-and-a-half years ago and was the result of extensive consultation with the taxi and luxury hire car industries, as well as rideshare providers.
“Some people said this would be too hard to crack but we persisted,” he said.
“The change is needed to ensure that services remain competitive, contemporary and meet passenger expectations and can offer a safe and reliable service to Tasmanians.”
Mr Ferguson commended the rideshare providers for engaging in productive discussions with the government.
“They’ve actually been very fair-minded about it and understood there was a rebalancing that needed to occur,” he said.
The minister also disputed the assertion that the government had failed to regulate short-stay accommodation.
Ola Australia and New Zealand managing director Simon Smith said the company welcomed “any decision to level the playing field for transportation providers”.
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