Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:29): My question today is for Minister Pulford, representing the minister for transport. Uber has argued consistently in Australian courts that it does not have responsibility for its drivers.
In Australia, Uber contends that drivers are independent contractors. In the UK, Uber has lost its case and drivers are now workers. Without Uber taking responsibility for their drivers, there is a lack of clarity regarding who is liable for their actions. Given the announcement of the multipurpose taxi program being extended to Uber, this lack of clarity could have grave consequences. With our most vulnerable Victorians now being passengers of Uber, who is responsible for the drivers’ actions in cases of abuse and exploitation? So my question is: if Uber will not be responsible for the actions of its drivers, will the government take responsibility to protect those passengers who could be using its service?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business) (12:30): I thank Mr Barton for his question directed to Minister Carroll and I will seek a written response.
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Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:30): Thank you, Minister. If the government does not take responsibility for the actions of Uber drivers, it is difficult to identify who is looking out for and protecting passengers within the multipurpose taxi program. We have seen time and time again criminal investigations of Uber drivers and Uber resisting cooperation and demanding that our police actually send an international warrant off to one of their international offices. So I ask: what measures will the government take to ensure that passengers of the multipurpose taxi program are protected from abuse and exploitation, and in the case of any criminal behaviour, who will ensure the police are given the powers they require to pursue a conviction?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business) (12:30): I thank Mr Barton for his supplementary question. I will seek a response from Minister Carroll. Even though part of that went to police powers, I think the answer to the underlying question is within Mr Carroll’s remit as it is a policy question.