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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 October 2015) . . Page.. 3768 ..

Omit all words after “That this Assembly”, substitute: “agrees with the Government approach to review how the introduction of rides haring has influenced the price of perpetual taxi plates 24 months after the commencement of ride share in the ACT.”.

The government has acted swiftly to come up with a reform package in a policy area that many jurisdictions around the world have found difficult. We will be the first Australian city to successfully integrate ride sharing into our regulatory environment, the first capital city in the world to regulate for ride sharing before it comes into effect. It is the “for ride sharing” part of that sentence that is important because the reform package that we have crafted recognises the changes that are going on in the world around us and puts this jurisdiction ahead of the curve in adapting to and, importantly, taking advantage of, those changes for our citizens.

There are plenty of jurisdictions that have tried to block ride sharing. I do not think many of those efforts could be described as successful. The fact of the world and the fact of any industry is that change happens, and in our time on this planet change will be happening faster than ever before. The responsibility of government is to engage with and guide that change and to shape it to benefit our community. That is exactly what the government has sought to do.

The simple fact about the government’s reforms here is that they give consumers more choice. Let me be clear: my priority will always be consumers over producers in any service provision. It is about consumers. Without consumers, there is no industry, and I am surprised that those opposite have taken the position they have—to put the interests of a small minority ahead of the majority of Canberrans.

Supporting consumers and supporting consumer choice is what governments should be about—lower prices through competition, reducing the costs and the regulatory burden for those who wish to operate in this industry, and helping to level the playing field. That is what the government can do, and that is exactly what we have done here.

We want to provide appropriate protections for consumers and for drivers. I note that in Mr Coe’s contribution there was no significant mention of drivers, who are amongst the most exploited under the current arrangements. So it is no wonder that there has been a massive level of interest in participating in ride sharing in this city, and it is no wonder that I have been inundated, by about a hundred to one in the thousands of pieces of correspondence that I have received, in support of the government’s reforms.

Mr Smyth: Thousands?

MR BARR: Thousands of pieces of correspondence across email, social media and various other contacts, reflecting strong support for the government’s position here.

I understand and accept that there will be a group of people who are unhappy. It is rare in any public policy decision that everyone is happy. But let me be clear: I will always put consumer interests first, and that is exactly what we are doing.

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