Principles for a Sharing Economy
House of Representatives
22 October 2015
Ahead of an AFL game at the MCG, Michael Nuciforo and Robert Crocitti were driving around East Melbourne looking for a place to park. As they put it:
As we drove past parked car, after parked car, after empty space that required a parking permit … It then hit us. Wouldn't it be great if we could just knock on someone's door and ask to park at their place for a small fee? … The more we thought about it, the more it made sense … We don't need more parking spaces, we just need to utilise the parking spaces we already have.
Parkhound is one of the many sharing economy services that have emerged in Australia over recent years. Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are transforming transport for many Australians and offer the potential of dealing with traffic congestion. Victorian freeway speeds have dropped from 68 kilometres an hour to 45 kilometres an hour over the last decade as our roads have become increasingly choked.
Airbnb offers the opportunity to better deal with the challenge of housing affordability. At the same time as we have house prices to incomes at record highs, we have 10 million spare rooms across Australia. Pawshake and PetCloud offer opportunities to have your pet looked after in a friendly home. Airtasker, Freelancer and Sidekicker offer opportunities to find someone who can help mow your lawn or, most popularly, put together some new IKEA furniture. GoGet and DriveMyCar offer chances to let people share cars rather than clogging up our cities with more vehicles. Vayable offer local tours. EatWith offer a home-cooked meal. Camplify, based in Newcastle, is a sharing economy service that recognises that the typical caravan and campervan owner only uses them three weeks a year. These services have, in many cases, been put together by Australian innovators and entrepreneurs—people like Chris Noone from DriveMyCar, Tristan Sender from GoGet and Justin Hales from Camplify.
Labor welcome the sharing economy, but we also believe the sharing economy should play by some basic rules. Today, along with Bill Shorten and Ed Husic, I announced Labor's sharing economy principles. Primary property is yours to share. When Australians use their own homes, cars or goods to deliver services, then rules and regulations specific to the sharing economy should apply. The new services should support good wages and working conditions, because there is nothing that Labor believes in more than making sure that workers get a fair deal. We believe there should be fair tax for everyone and that sharing economy services should pay their fair share towards supporting the government services that all of us enjoy. There should be proper protections for public safety and we must ensure that there is an environment that supports insurance. Access for all allows Australians with disabilities to benefit from sharing economy services such as UberASSIST, which provides opportunities for people with disabilities to access a disability accessible car. The new services should play by the rules, and those rules, once put in place, need to be firmly and appropriately enforced.
Labor came forward with these principles off the back of a discussion paper I announced in the National Press Club in March which garnered more than 500 submissions. We have moved on the issue of the sharing economy because the federal government has not. Just as Labor have taken up the challenge of policymaking in cities and in innovation, so too we are doing it in the sharing economy. You see this with other Labor governments across Australia. In the ACT, the Barr government is engaging with the regulatory structures surrounding Uber and ensuring that taxi drivers see a 75 per cent cut in their license fees and that ride sharing is appropriately regulated. In Victoria, the Victorian government is working with Airbnb to allow new opportunities in a disaster relief situation. Where people want to open up their homes and offer a free room to someone affected by a national disaster, Airbnb can facilitate that.
I would like to thank the CBR Innovation Network, which hosted us today—the founder, Sarah Pearson, the chair, Tony Henshaw, and the companies that we met today: Made For Me, HACT, The Creative Element, Dilkara and SolarBare.
The sharing economy offers great potential for Australian innovators. It also offers the chance to tackle big challenges such as congestion and housing affordability. We need to get the rules right, and that is why Labor is leading on the sharing economy. We believe the sharing economy can work for workers, for consumers and for taxpayers alike. If the government will not lead, Labor will.