Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (13:37): (1470) My adjournment tonight is for Minister Carroll in the other place. Recently the New South Wales Point-to-Point Transport Commissioner’s audit found that Uber failed to inform the regulator of more than 500 serious incidents over 18 months. These incidents included sexual assaults and crashes that resulted in hospitalisations. This is a systemic safety failure. Uber has been fined $200 000 for this failure to meet legislated safety requirements. I have long been warning of the gig economy, in particular the multinational corporations like Uber who export up to 30 per cent of their revenue overseas back into the pockets of those Silicon Valley billionaires. Uber has been a Trojan Horse for the gig economy, and we are now seeing the consequences of this as more gig businesses take control of our workforce. We now have Amazon Flex, a service likened to Uber’s exploitative working model, in the courier industry. Drivers must cover the cost of the vehicle, the petrol, the insurance and the superannuation themselves. This service, like Uber, is said to offer flexibility, yet drivers feel the pressure that they will be terminated from the app if they refuse to work to unrealistic deadlines.
What this New South Wales commission audit of Uber shows is not a mere clerical error. Uber have the resources to abide by safety requirements, conduct internal reviews and ensure that they are operating within the law, yet they choose not to. While the New South Wales regulator is holding Uber to account for their non-compliance and has issued $200 000 in fines, the Victorian regulator, Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV), has extended the multipurpose taxi program to Uber. This allows Uber to offer government-subsidised rides to Victoria’s most vulnerable while having no requirements to install tamper-proof cameras and other safety measures in the vehicle as is required in taxis. We must ask: are Uber a fit and proper entity to be operating in this market?
The New South Wales safety audit of Uber shows just how complacent the Victorian regulator is when it comes to passenger safety. If you believe Uber is behaving any differently in Victoria from in New South Wales, you would have to be incredibly naive. However, I have seen no evidence to suggest that the CPVV have conducted a safety audit on rideshare operators in Victoria to this extent, so the action I seek is: will the minister instruct the department to initiate a safety audit of Uber based on the outcome of the safety audit conducted in New South Wales?
Answered by Hon Ben Carroll 1st October 2021
I thank the Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region for his question and long-standing advocacy for safety in the commercial passenger vehicle industry.
Safety is the Andrews Labor Government’s number one priority, which is why we have introduced a safety duties framework for the commercial passenger vehicle industry that places obligations on all industry participants, including booking service providers such as Uber, to ensure that services are delivered safely.
The industry safety regulator, Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV), undertakes monitoring, compliance and enforcement activity to ensure that the industry is complying with its safety duties.
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the safety risk profile of the commercial passenger vehicle industry and CPVV has worked closely with industry to ensure booking service provider safety systems and driver’s in-vehicle practices mitigate the risk of transmission, providing industry with targeted tools, conducting audits and inspections, and issuing infringement and improvement notices where required.
To enhance safety outcomes, CPVV maintains strong relationships with regulators across Australia and shares knowledge regarding the development and implementation of regulatory programs and related initiatives, particularly those related to booking service providers operating nationally. The legal obligations for booking service providers to notify the regulator of industry incidents differ between New South Wales and Victoria. Accordingly, non-compliance by an industry participant in New South Wales cannot be assumed to indicate non-compliance with Victorian law. CPVV has an audit program in place to assess compliance with the notifiable incident regime in Victoria.