NBR on small passenger review

NBR reports:

As someone in the pro-Uber, pro-disruptive technology, I was hoping the government would side with Uber but I’m surprised at just how emphatically Mr Bridges has backed the newcomer.

Last night, the transport minister said he would take the “lightest touch” possible as the new rules were finalised.

“I’ve always thought that in politics you’re on the side of the angels if what you’re doing is good for consumers, and ultimately this will be,” he said.

“What I want to see is a regime that allows for new technological innovations but is safe. Some change is required but we’re open to where that goes.”

A very welcome focus on what is best for consumers, not what is best for industry.

More broadly, some fear quality will drop under his laissez-faire proposals. But at least Uber drivers have the incentive that they are constantly being rated by passengers. And, in contrast, we’ve all had rubbish taxi drivers at times who have poorly maintained cars and/or an inability to work a simple GPS. Often the difference is nothing, given the number of taxi drivers who do double duty, whipping off their magnetic taxi badging when they get an Uber hail.

The New Zealand government’s approach is a happy contrast to some countries, like France, which are trying to ban or crack down on Uber; or Australia, were insanely complicated and expensive arrangements are being established (in South Australia, the state government is paying 1137 taxi drivers $A30,000 each as compensation for a law making ride-sharing apps like Uber legal. The $34 million move is being funded by a $A1 tariff on taxi fares that will, of course, make Uber seem even more attractive. Western Australia is introducing annual fees for Uber drivers. New South Wales is introducing a stonking $A250 million taxi industry compensation package, with a $A1 a ride special tariff for five years).

So well done, Mr Bridges.

A very good outcome from Bridges and Foss.

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