ACT legalises ride-sharing, as WA tests water for reform

The Australian Capital Territory has become Australia’s first jurisdiction to legalise ride-sharing services including Uber, as on-demand transport in Perth faces reform.

The ACT Government today announced it would allow the regulated entry of ride-sharing services into the Canberra market and reduce fees for taxis and hire cars from October 30.

Ride-sharing vehicles and drivers will also be accredited and registered, with drivers to undergo criminal and driving history checks like taxi drivers. Vehicles must also be checked for safety and fully insured.

In an email to customers today, Uber Australia praised the move and called on West Australians to “tweet” Colin Barnett, urging him to embrace ride-sharing services.

“Chief Minister (Andrew) Barr has listened to the people of Canberra and has taken action to bring more transport choices to consumers and increased opportunity for drivers,” the statement said.

“Please join us in congratulating Chief Minister Barr for leading the nation, and tell your Premier to do the same in Western Australia.”

It comes as a spokeswoman for WA Transport Minister Dean Nalder said: “Reform is underway right now in WA to achieve a level playing field”.

The WA Government has released the On-demand Transport Green Paper and is seeking public feedback on “safe, flexible and innovative environment for on-demand transport”.

Mr Nalder’s spokeswoman said 680 submissions had been made in response to the green paper and there said there were “29 prosecutions underway of Uber drivers in WA”.

Uber has been operating in Perth since July 2014 and has been controversial with taxi services drivers, who have argued the illegality of the app-based business.

The Taxi Operators Legal Defence WA (TOLD), a lobby of more than 300 taxi plate owners, has launched legal action against the State Government claiming it failed in its duty to stop Uber operating in WA.

A TOLD representative, who did not want to be named, said Uber must play by the rules.

“Uber had the opportunity to participate legally. They chose to run by their own laws ignoring the laws of our land,” he said.

TOLD claims that without reform, ride-sharing businesses like Uber will force smaller operators out of work.

“Cross-subsidisation of work will no longer exist. In fact, the taxi industry as we know it will no longer exist.”

Under the ACT legislation changes, taxi licence fees will be reduced from $20,000 to $10,000 from October 30 and $5000 a year later.

Mr Nalder has previously said that West Australians wanted greater choice for on-demand transport and the green paper sought input from customers and the industry.

Public comment on the WA on-demand transport reform closes on October 16.

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