Uber’s launch in Australia in October 2012 was met with enthusiasm from consumers and prospective drivers but also resistance from the taxi industry. State and territory governments considered issues like customer safety, transport access, competition, impact on the taxi industry, and productivity implications in their response to the emergence of ridesharing.
In 2015 the ACT Government became the first jurisdiction in Australia to incorporate ridesharing into regulatory frameworks, followed shortly by New South Wales. Today, every state and territory have established ridesharing regulatory regimes. As part of the reforms, most jurisdictions also created assistance packages for owners of taxi licences. The ACT Government’s review of its ridesharing reform package suggests benefits in 2016/17 for consumers of $6.4 to 8.8 million.
The Uber example shows that, while important, consulting the public and carefully considering the regulatory issues raised by digital disruption takes time. It also demonstrated that Governments must identify trends early to ensure regulatory regimes can keep up with the pace of technological advancement. One way governments can resolve this challenge and balance the need for speed and due care is to regulate iteratively and ensure legislation is sufficiently broad to incorporate future developments, as has broadly been the case in ridesharing.