Vic Govt strikes deal with Sex Party over ride-sharing legislation

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Ride-booking service Uber is a step closer to being regulated in Victoria after a deal was struck between the State Government and the Sex Party.

Key points:

  • The Sex Party says it would like to see a framework developed by August
  • Uber accessibility needs to be properly considered, disability groups say
  • The State Government says it can not confirm when legislation will be ready

A private member’s bill was introduced to Parliament today by Sex Party leader Fiona Patten, but a vote on the bill has been adjourned.

Ms Patten said the party had been given assurances from the Government they would use the work they have done as a framework for the regulation.

“They’ve actually assured me that they would have something for us after the winter break to look at and we will be working with them to get this done as soon as possible,” she said.

Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the Government would use the break to work on the plan.

“We’ll now work together on how we can bring forward a framework, a legislative and regulatory framework that right’s for Victoria,” she said.

Ms Allan said it was a complex issue and there were a number of points that needed to be addressed, including whether there would be compensation for taxi drivers.

“Support for the existing industry is something that I’ve spoken to many members of Parliament about, including with Fiona, and that’s something that the Government understands needs to be examined as we put together the final framework,” she said.

The Government would not be drawn on a timeframe for when the legislation would be ready, but Ms Patten said she was hopeful it would be sooner rather than later.

“They really just have to introduce the regulation, work out how they’re going to deregulate the taxi industry and create that level playing field, and they should be able to do that by August,” she said.

The Coalition said it backed a quick resolution, but if it was not resolved by August it would introduce its own bill.

Disability groups concerned about regulation of Uber

Disability groups have raised concerns about the bill in its current form, flagging existing issues with the current taxi system.

Alex Holland from Youth Disability Services said the Government needed to consider the impact regulating Uber could have on people with disabilities because they already face a number of problems when trying to access taxis.

“It’s not good enough, it’s not meeting our needs, I get stranded frequently and I struggle to get to university,” she said.

“The issue is, if Uber is brought into the market without properly considering the effects on the disabled community the situation is going to get much worse.”

Others said if the legislation was introduced and it was not done properly it would be difficult to reverse.

“This is something that can’t be fixed later on, it needs to be fixed now in accordance with the legislative requirements, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act,” Disabled Motorists Australia’s Emilio Savle said.

“With respect to that, people with disabilities have a right to ride in any public transport vehicle as we see it whether that be a taxi, a bus, train, or whatever.”

Ms Patten said without regulating the industry it was difficult to ensure people with a disability were not discriminated against.

“The discrimination legislation that requires companies to provide disability access will apply to Uber once it’s regulated, while ride sharing is unregulated we can’t impose discrimination legislation,” she said.\

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