Bill Shorten, Australia’s Federal Opposition Leader, has declared all sharing economy companies such as Uber and Airbnb must “play by the rules” and be regulated, albeit with a “light touch”.
“There is huge economic and community potential in the emerging peer-to-peer market,” he wrote in a blog post.
“I want to see Australia embrace it, while ensuring we have the right rules in place to protect workers, consumers and the public good.”
Mr Shorten, who leads the Australian Labour Party, yesterday announced a set of ‘National Sharing Economy Principles’.
“The first principle is that the sharing economy deserves its own light-touch rules and regulations. After all, when you’re using your own car, home or goods to deliver services, that’s hardly as high-risk as running a big business.
“Second, these new services shouldn’t compromise Australian wages and working conditions. There’s nothing for Australia to gain from a race to the bottom on pay and conditions, or from undermining peoples’ right to a decent standard of living.
“The third principle is the simplest: everyone doing business in the sharing economy must pay their fair share of tax.
“That means sharing economy companies should pay company tax at the standard rate — whether they are local firms or big international ones.
“Australians delivering sharing economy services should also pay income tax just like everyone else does.
“Then there’s public safety. Australians want to feel safe and know they’re protected if anything goes wrong. So sharing economy services should have proper insurance and be covered by the Australian Consumer Law.
“Sharing economy services must also be accessible to Australians with disabilities. We don’t accept exclusion and discrimination in this country, full stop. The sharing economy should be no exception.
“Finally, everyone should play by the rules. For the past couple of years the sharing economy has operated in a regulatory grey area and, sometimes, outside the law entirely.
“That might be understandable when the rules haven’t yet caught up, but it is inexcusable once they do.
“When governments put in place tailored, light-touch rules for the sharing economy, there should be zero tolerance for companies that continue to flout Australian laws.”
CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia, Carol Giuseppi, welcomed Mr Shorten’s comments.
“Mr Shorten has raised some very important points about protecting the interests of both consumers and legitimate operators, and we welcome his viewpoints,” she said.
“The ‘share’ accommodation sector has grown far beyond the original concept of a resident owner letting out their spare room for a few days a year to make a little pocket money…
“It is now a very serious commercial business for many operators.”