Uber supports Policy Review’s call for removal of anti-competition regulations

Following the release today of the federal government’s Competition Policy Review Draft Report, Uber is very encouraged to see its strong recommendation that state governments should promote innovation and consumer choice by “removing regulations that restrict competition . . . including from services that compete with taxis”.

“Mobile technologies are emerging that compete with traditional taxi booking services and support the emergence of innovative passenger transport services. Any regulation of such services should be consumer-focused and not inhibit innovation or protect existing business models.”

Commissioned by the Australian Government, the Competition Policy Review (The Harper Review) is the first independent and comprehensive review of Australia’s competition laws and policy in over 20 years. The Review’s purpose is to inquire into and make recommendations on appropriate reforms to improve the Australian economy and the welfare of Australians.

The draft report went on to say, “The emergence of Uber has been particularly controversial as regulatory agencies have been questioning its legality and fining drivers, notwithstanding considerable public demand for its services. This indicates existing regulation is more concerned with protecting a particular business model than being flexible enough to allow innovative transport services to emerge.

National Seniors Australia notes that new technologies are having the effect of empowering consumers:

[T]he digital revolution — including the growing use of mobile telephone applications in combination with satellite navigation technologies — is giving rise to opportunities for new entrants to breakdown existing taxi network monopolies, enabling consumers to exercise greater choice and receive prompter service. It will be important to ensure that these innovations are not stifled by further anti-competitive regulation aimed at protecting incumbents . . .

The Panel considers that the longstanding failure to reform taxi regulation has undermined the credibility of governments’ commitment to competition policy more broadly, making it harder to argue the case for reform in other areas. The Victorian example demonstrates that change is possible and technological ‘disruption’ suggests that change driven by consumers is inevitable.”*

Demand for Uber has grown exponentially across Australia, with hundreds of thousands of riders, and thousands of partner-drivers, signing up to the platform and enjoying the reliability, convenience, safety and affordability that it offers. We support the draft report findings on competition in the transport sector and look forward to working with the review as they finalise this important process.

*Uber’s emphasis

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