Taxi and hire car industry

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Public Transport and concerns the impact of ride-sharing operators on the taxi industry. The action I seek is that at the next meeting of Australian transport ministers the minister raise the need for a coordinated response from all states and territories to the introduction and growth of ride-sharing operators.

I am regularly contacted by taxi drivers, licence owners and local residents who are concerned about the impact of ride-sharing operators such as Uber. Many local families from my electorate, including the wonderful DiCinque family, have been outstanding members of the local taxi industry for many years. Sadly, they are now very concerned that their livelihoods are being threatened by Uber and other ride-sharing operators. Many feel that Uber has gained an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

I have been told that there is now a shortage of taxidrivers in the local area, as it is much easier to become an Uber driver. To receive accreditation, taxidrivers must pass a knowledge test as well as criminal and medical checks, yet this is not required of Uber drivers. Some have claimed that those who failed their knowledge test have simply moved on and begun working for ride-sharing operators. This is incredibly frustrating for many locals in the taxi industry who have done the right thing and are doing their very best to provide a much-needed service to local residents.

I understand that the minister held a taxi and hire car ministerial forum earlier this year to discuss the emergence of ride sharing. Many were pleased that a working group was established to look at the issue of ride-share services in further detail and examine what is being done to respond to ride-sharing activities in other jurisdictions. I note that there have been many different responses to the emergence of ride sharing around the world. Germany, for instance, has banned Uber drivers from operating without a taxi licence.

It is clear that to appropriately respond to the emergence of ride sharing a strong, coordinated response is needed from each and every state and territory. Our local taxi industry is incredibly diverse and full of wonderful local residents from a variety of backgrounds. They have enriched our local community, they work very hard to support their families and they contribute significantly to the local economy. I ask the minister to raise this incredibly important issue on their behalf at the next meeting of Australian transport ministers.