Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Bill 2016

Yellow Taxi

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 20:05 :18 ): The member for Strathfield tried hard in her contribution to the second reading debate on the Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Bill 2016 tonight but was only able to give the most limp endorsement of the position of the Leader of the Opposition on point to point transport. The member for Strathfield, the member for Kogarah and others must wish they were in the place of their invisible leader. The pressure on the Leader of the Opposition's position will only increase on Thursday, when he delivers his budget-in-reply speech. The budget delivered by the Government today was so outstanding, reducing government debt—

Ms JODI McKAY: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. This is not a speech in relation to the budget. I am sure the member will be given an opportunity to respond to the budget. I ask that you ask the member to return to the leave of the bill.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: To the point of order: Today's budget outlined significant funding for this reform, so it is entirely appropriate for the member to reference the budget. If I remember correctly, the budget allocates some $150 million towards this reform package.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER ( Ms Melanie Gibbons ): I heard the member talking about point to point transport and the bill. I call the member for Ku-ring-gai to continue his contribution to the second reading debate.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: Turning to the content of the bill, again this Government presents to this House legislation that shows the Coalition is best able to handle rapid change in technology, and its economic and regulatory consequences. The main purpose of the bill is to introduce a new regulatory framework for the point to point transport industry following the emergence of disruptive technology that has resulted in new models of service delivery, such as ridesharing. While many jurisdictions around Australia and the world have simply put their heads in the sand, the Baird Liberal-Nationals Government has embraced the collaborative economy including the innovation, customer and economic opportunities that it creates.

My colleague the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation released a position paper on the collaborative economy in January this year. Research by Deloitte showed that the sector contributed $504 million to the New South Wales economy in 2015. Research by the Grattan Institute noted that the collaborative economy had the effect of "boosting employment and incomes for those on the fringe of the labour market, and putting thousands of underused homes and other assets to work".

The New South Wales Government's position paper had five guiding principles to underpin policy and provide safeguards for consumers and business. These were: one, supporting a culture of innovation; two, fit‑for‑purpose regulation in the digital age; three, customer protection and safety; four, promoting competition; and five, agile government procurement. This bill conforms to those principles. The framework is sensible as it provides a new regulatory platform for the industry that encourages innovation and diversity while ensuring safety.

The information-sharing provisions in the bill, along with technology upgrades for the regulator and other agencies, will make it easier for all point to point businesses to meet the safety obligations, while ensuring that important privacy safeguards are maintained. Research indicates that ridesharing has had the effect of increasing usage overall. This is the case in Sydney. An Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) survey found that despite more services on offer to customers the taxi market actually grew slightly after ridesharing was legalised in December 2015.

More than 90 per cent of people in the survey who use ridesharing services had also used taxis in the preceding six months. This bill seeks to improve the range and flexibility of services while upholding public safety and consumer protection. As the Point to Point Transport Taskforce report highlighted, government has overregulated industry to within an inch of its life. The regulatory regime has overburdened industry with costs while hindering innovation. Until December 2015 regulations specified in great detail all kinds of issues for taxis and hire cars. For hire cars they included the length of the wheelbase, the price of the vehicle and the shape of the vehicle. A station wagon was not permitted. For taxis they included the width and depth of seats and the seat coverings and floor mats, amongst other things. The regulator even had to approve the colour that a taxi could be painted. This regulation highly constrained the industry, burdening it by unnecessary red tape and costs.

Overregulation stifles innovation and is antithetical to enterprise. Many taxi and hire car regulations have been in place for decades without regard to their effectiveness or the costs they were imposing. The challenge brought about by the disruptive business model embodied by ridesharing has focused attention on many archaic and arbitrary rules under which the current point to point transport industry labours. The task force has come up with a sensible solution that the Government has endorsed: recommending the abolition of many regulations without evident purpose or effect and retaining those that remain appropriate and contribute towards safety outcomes. Importantly, the Government has embraced the concept of a regulatory regime that is results-focused, promotes safety, is cost-efficient and allows the development of competitive, new business models. I commend the work of the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure in developing this bill and the way in which he is dealing with the necessary transport and infrastructure innovation by the Government. I commend the bill to the House