My adjournment this evening is for the minister for transport. A man pretending to be an Uber driver has been sentenced with a jail term only last week after sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl. This man pretended to be an Uber driver, and that is how he tricked the young woman into his car. In the young woman’s victim statement she said:
I still find myself asking ‘why?’, maybe if I wasn’t wearing a dress or if I was careful enough.
We all know in this place it is never the victim’s fault. Unfortunately the absence of proper regulation in the rideshare sector has left the industry wide open to be exploited by sexual predators. We have seen this too many times. The only requirement for a rideshare driver to identify their vehicle is to have a small sticker on the corner of their front windscreen. This is easily copied and easily removed. Yes, the apps provide the numberplate of the vehicle that is arriving. Anyone who thinks this is enough is kidding themselves. I worked as a taxi and hire car driver for over 30 years. Often people order a taxi or a rideshare as they have had a few drinks and cannot drive themselves. Many have over-refreshed and for a number of reasons may not be capable of identifying the numberplate of the vehicle they are getting into. This is the reality. We do not create regulations in a perfect world. The reality is that many drunk and vulnerable individuals will order a rideshare vehicle and will not double-check the numberplate.
Prior to the reforms of 2017 this was not an issue. Taxis have permanent branding on their vehicles that passengers can easily identify. Not only that, but taxis—not rideshare—are required to have a tamper-proof, permanent camera in their vehicle that can only be accessed by police and the regulator. A rideshare vehicle is a taxi. They should be forced to comply with the same stringent safety regulations that apply to taxi vehicles. The regulators, Transport Safety Victoria and Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria, must ask themselves: how many more sexual assaults have to occur before we take action? Minister, will you instruct Transport Safety Victoria to conduct a review of the identification requirements for rideshare vehicles, with the view of eliminating the ease with which predators can pretend to be a rideshare driver?