Labor is trying to get its head around the rules needed for the sharing economy

GoGet CEO Tristan Sender. Image: Supplied.

As government responds to the disruption caused by “sharing economy” businesses, Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s released his party’s “guiding principles” for legislating it.

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Shorten said Airbnb, Uber, Airtasker and GoGet are blurring the line between private property and public goods, and while Australia should embrace it, workers and consumers need to be protected.

The ALP has produced six policy principles as it looks at creating new laws on the industry.

They are:

1. Primary property is yours to share
When Australians use their own cars, homes or goods to deliver services, rules and regulations specific to the sharing economy should apply.

2. New services must support good wages and working conditions
When offering services which involve human labour, sharing economy companies should ensure their pricing and contracting arrangements allow Australians to achieve work outcomes at least equivalent to the prevailing industry standard.

3. Everyone pays their fair share of tax
Everyone doing business in the sharing economy must pay a fair share of tax.

4. Proper protection for public safety
Sharing economy services must have the right insurance to protect Australians if anything goes wrong. Consumers should also be protected by the Australian Consumer Law and light-touch licencing and inspection rules at the state government level.

5. Access for all
Sharing economy services should be accessible to Australians with disabilities. Sharing economy companies should negotiate service levels and needs through accessibility agreements with disability peak bodies.

6. Playing by the rules
Once tailored, light-touch rules exist for the sharing economy, there should be zero tolerance for companies that continue to flout Australian laws.

Associate professor Andrew Riemer, from the digital disruption research group at the University of Sydney Business School, said the approach will help prevent exploitation by platform providers like Uber and Airbnb.

“In effect, the policy will halt the current trend away from the shared economy and towards an economy in which Australians with assets to offer are exploited by platform providers,” he said.

“The policy will require platform providers to take responsibility for such things as compliance and in so doing will rebalance the relationship with people who rely on them for an income.”

Labor’s National Sharing Economy principles are online here.

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