NSW Opposition on board with Uber, proposes ride-sharing bill

The NSW Opposition Leader has used his 2015 Budget reply speech to throw his support behind Uber and the sharing economy with a proposal to regulate ride-sharing.

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Uber X lets users share rides with private drivers, rather than taking a taxi. Uber

The NSW State Opposition has pledged to regulate the sharing economy, saying "the Government is behind the times," particularly on ride sharing services such as Uber X.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley made the comments in his 2015 budget reply speech in State Parliament today, during which he talked about the advantages of the sharing economy and the need for regulation to ensure Government was capitalising on its economic potential.

Services such as Uber, Airbnb and Airtasker allow people to share car trips, spare rooms, odd jobs and any number of services through mobile apps and websites. The sharing economy more widely digitises and monetises tasks which were once the domain of neighbourly good will, and Governments across the world are hoping to get a slice of the profits.

But while there's plenty to be gained from the sharing economy, Governments and regulators have come under fire for being slow to adapt to the new world order of this agile start-up market, and there are plenty of concerns that an unregulated sharing economy could be dangerous for consumers.

The Opposition Leader has stepped into the breach over this "digital version of a good friend or garage sale," introducing a private members' bill to regulate the ride-sharing industry.

"Ride-sharing has already been regulated in more than 24 jurisdictions around the world -- it's time for this state to join that list," he said. "People are voting with their feet--hundreds of thousands used Uber last year. And the public should be free to choose the services they want without fear of retribution from Government."

Mr Foley said despite commitments from the former Minister for Transport to address these new services, the Government has "done nothing" and "the time for talk is over."

"On this issue, and so many others, the Government is behind the times," he said. "The Parliament should regulate to protect consumers and drivers by putting in place some basic standards. We should have a race to the top, not the bottom, when it comes to customer standards and driver pay.

"We need to find ways to encourage and facilitate the sharing economy. This makes economic and environmental sense."

For its part, Uber has welcomed Mr Foley's recognition of the "positive and ever-growing impact that ridesharing is having on Sydney, and other cities across the country."

"Today, nearly 1 million Australians have tried and come to love the safe, reliable and affordable transport options that ridesharing provides," Uber said in a blog post today. "The deafening chorus of voices calling for change cannot, and will not, be ignored. It's now time for Government to act."

CNET has contacted Transport for NSW for comment.