A month on from legalising ridesharing services across NSW, the State Government has released a position paper outlining a framework to regulate the wider sharing economy in the state, highlighting the “positive impact of the collaborative economy for consumer choice, employment, and productivity.”
Released earlier this week, the paper states that the current value of the sharing economy in NSW is $504 million and growing rapidly, with 50 percent of NSW residents using a sharing economy service and an estimated 45,000 people earning income through the sharing economy over the last 12 months.
Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello said that it is vital that government policies embrace new technologies and enable businesses to operate with certainty.
“Digital innovation is transforming the way people do business in every city and every country around the world. The reality is the collaborative economy is here to stay,” he said.
“The economic benefits relating to the collaborative economy are already significant and will continue to grow, as more consumers choose to link or share directly with providers via online and mobile platforms.”
The government will look to develop an approach in consultation with industry and experts, through which it will be guided by five guiding principles:
- Support a culture of innovation
- Ensure regulation is fit for purpose in the digital age
- Maintain consumer protection and safety
- Promote competition
- Adopt an agile approach to government procurement
With regulation the core concern, the government has acknowledged that the “simplification, repeal, reform, or consolidation of existing regulation should be considered”, with the effectiveness of established self-regulatory measures to be examined.
While NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley criticised the government for being so slow to accept the sharing economy, industry figures have welcomed the paper.
Chris Noone, CEO of Collaborate Corporation, operator of sharing platforms DriveMyCar and MyCaravan, said the government has taken the time to “understand the nuances” of the sharing economy.
“It affects so many different industries; it affects transport, accommodation, labour hire, and lots of different categories, so it’s not as if you’re looking at one specific category…in terms of other state governments around the country, NSW appears to be in the lead, so even though they’ve been slow in bringing it out, they’re now ahead of other states around the country,” he said.
Noone said the government’s understanding of the space and how it can be utilised to adopt an agile approach to government procurement is already being put into practice.
“We’re starting to see that our dealing with government is starting to accelerate now. We’re getting a lot more interest from departments in utilising our services, and we see there’s actual practical evidence of these policies being implemented already,” he said.
Noone said there are significant opportunities for all level of governments to embrace the sharing economy, and believes 2016 may see developments in this space around Australia.
“The government is one of the largest, if not the largest, owner of assets in the country and the sharing economy model can provide lots of opportunities to increase the productivity of these assets and reduce the cost of ownership as well. I think there’ll be some great examples of government embracing the sharing and getting some great benefits out of it,” he said.
As governments and consumers alike embrace the sharing, or collaborative, economy, Noone hopes that 2016 is the year in which the mainstream’s understanding of the space moves beyond just Uber and Airbnb.
“I really hope we get to the position where people really get to know what it means without having to talk about two big American corporations as an example, and we promote the Australian businesses that are doing really good business here.”
The government is welcoming submissions on its position paper through the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation.