The taxis’ last gasp, Government says it can’t save them

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CANBERRA’S taxi drivers are expressing their displeasure at the imminent arrival of the ride sharing service Uber with a protest in Civic Square this morning that’s causing a fair bit of traffic disruption.

Andrew Barr yesterday opined to a local newspaper that there was nothing he could do about it.

“The bottom line in all of this is that the government will not be able to arrest our way out of Uber’s entry into the market,” Andrew said.

This defeatist attitude intrigued us as the government is in no way able to arrest recreational drugs out of Canberra but that’s never stopped them from trying.

When I put this question the Chief’s office came back with this:

That’s a bit of a stretch to compare the two. Each regulatory area is considered separately based on a range of unique factors. The Chief Minister’s comments is that, as has been experienced around the world, it is almost impossible to prevent ridesharing services operating. What we need is regulation that covers the concerns raised. This will ultimately also see a deregulation of the traditional taxi industry.

This is not stopping UnionsACT from joining the fray:

“Unions are not opposed to the arrival of Uber in the ACT, and we see the Taxi Review as an opportunity for the ACT Government to introduce real safeguards for drivers,” said Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT.

“All drivers must receive minimum standards, pay and safety conditions, whether they drive a taxi or an Uber car.

“We hope that if Uber starts operating in the ACT, they will drop the misleading rhetoric that ‘drivers are their own CEOs’. In Australia, we have laws that prevent Americanised work contracts.

“Companies like Uber, who claim customer service as a priority, need to realise that they will not retain skilled, professional and customer-focused drivers unless they ensure secure employment, safe conditions and decent wages.

“Competition should be on the basis of genuine innovation and service, not on lowering the pay and conditions of drivers.”

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