The NSW opposition is all for Uber, Airbnb and renting out our driveways

Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Around the world companies breaking traditional industries are coming up against some big forces in government.

Uber, the $20 billion ride-hailing app which has flipped the taxi industry on its head by matching users with drivers and providing a seamless payment experience, is butting heads with authorities as it expands its grip.

But in Australia today, NSW Labor opposition leader Luke Foley has thrown his support behind the sharing economy, which is good news for UberX, the ride-sharing app, which was banned last year by the NSW Coalition government, leaving some drivers currently facing prosecution.

Foley announced he would introduce a private member’s bill this year to regulate ride-sharing in NSW.

“Political leaders in NSW cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the exciting potential solutions the sharing economy offers to our structural problems,” he wrote in an opinion piece published by the SMH today.

“Uber’s ride-sharing arrangements could dramatically ease congestion on NSW roads.

“Airbnb could help open the NSW tourism sector up to a whole new market.”

In his state Budget reply speech today the Labor leader said the sharing economy is not just another fad and politicians mustn’t hastily “outlaw them out of existence” as services like GoGet, Airbnb and Uber are trying to fill the gaps and match supply with demand. The sharing economy is also creating flexible jobs and subsidising incomes.

“Although it often feels that NSW is stretched to breaking point, the truth is there’s actually excess capacity all over the place,” he wrote.

“Housing is unaffordable, but many households have spare rooms.

“We lack storage, but cram our garages and sheds with tools and equipment we rarely use.

“You can’t find a park around key commuter hubs, yet most car ports and driveways on residential streets around train stations are unused for most of the day.

“Our roads are congested – with vehicles full of spare seats.

“To capture the value being offered we need governments to wake up and have the guts to accept the challenge. Yes, the shared economy represents a paradigm shift for regulators. But that does not mean we should run from the challenge and ignore how things are evidently evolving.”

The bill seeks to regulate and legalise ride-sharing service UberX and will probably anger the taxi industry which has been lobbying the government to have ride-sharing banned.

But Foley explained ride-sharing has already been regulated in more than 24 jurisdictions around the world and with hundreds of thousands of Australians using the services last year he said people should be free to choose the services they want without “fear of retribution”.

There’s more here.