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Share Economy - Parliamentary Intern

Mr WINGARD  ( Mitchell ) ( 17:27 :45): I rise to make an adjournment debate speech and to speak about Catherine Adam, who was posted as my parliamentary intern last semester. Her research report was titled 'Share Economy: A study of Uber and its entry in the transport sector of South Australia'. Catherine approached the issue with the knowledge that the recent rise of the share economy has generated various implications for consumers, service providers and state governments. As public perception also develops, many individuals are adopting sharing models as an alternative to existing business services and traditional providers. 

Share economies embrace co-usage. Beyond individual use, sharing creates a capacity to utilise idle or undervalued resources. Most travellers, for example, only drive their private vehicles on certain days and for certain periods of that day. Often, these trips also have low occupancy rates per vehicle, as only one or two passengers may ride in cars with a high number of available seats. Exposing this capacity with a sharing economy extends to improved efficiencies and the growth of markets, while nourishing the basic notions of community and goodwill that sharing has long represented. It is also deemed to be good for the environment.

The report looks at the share economy with a focus on the most well known of the new digital players, Uber. Uber's operation has generated resistance from players in formerly monopolised markets, particularly the taxi industry in South Australia. The report argues that a road to fairer regulation will be guided by the requirement for government to balance competition and rising consumer choice.

Catherine investigated how cities could engage with the emerging sharing economy. She acknowledged that, while the relationship between government and ride-sourcing firms has been marked by conflict, future negotiations can provide mutual benefits. As the share economy moves forward in South Australia, both sides can contribute to a successful outcome. Catherine notes that compliance from Uber to potential government regulations, in conjunction with reform of the current heavy regulatory burden on the taxi industry, may reduce opposition from taxi operators.

In light of the current jobs crisis in South Australia, the report examines the economic opportunities that could stem from adopting and regulating the sharing economy (specifically, Uber). Ride sourcing can benefit new employees, or new partners in the case of Uber. A typical partner in Australia works for approximately 20 hours a week for a company like Uber and earns approximately $30 per hour, equating to approximately $20,000 per annum. Employment opportunities also add to individuals seeking second and third jobs.

Flexibility grants partners in Uber the choice of when to operate their business (for instance, on weekends or outside business hours). The company refers to employment opportunities that are beneficial to areas of high unemployment. The cost and wealth distributive functions of sharing firms are a factor by which support for their operation is extended. Services can be more affordable, meaning they typically benefit younger cohorts, the cash poor, the capitally constrained, or those in lower income areas.

 

 

Ride sourcing is also argued as a way of making car ownership less necessary if consumers are able to access on-demand transport more readily. Furthermore, ride sourcing between independent drivers and passengers has the capacity to complement existing public transportation in cities. The slack capacity of privately owned vehicles is, in this sense, open to public use. There is also opportunity for contracting with sharing firms which can extend to other industries as well.

Catherine's report concludes by acknowledging that the share economy is new to South Australia. Share economies are giving energy to existing markets through innovative technology. Digital disruption, whilst challenging for incumbent providers, is productive to users in the 21st century 'app economy'.

Consumers are not the only ones likely to benefit from the future of sharing models. There is much to learn about how cities and business-to-business relations can harness technological innovation and capitalise on latent resources. The case in South Australia is no different. Although disruptions may cause initial threat, government has the opportunity to rethink how certain industry are managed for optimum efficiency and consumer satisfaction.

The parliamentary intern program is a fantastic way for students to engage with current political issues while finishing their tertiary education. It is also a great opportunity for members of parliament to engage with students who have come from a primarily academic angle, and expose young minds to the political process. I would like to sincerely congratulate Catherine Adam for all her hard work. It was great to be there when she did her presentation to the rest of her university classmates and lecturers. I certainly recommend this program to university students and other members of parliament. 

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