Ms Patten (Northern Metropolitan) tabled following statement in accordance with Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006:
In accordance with section 28 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, I make this statement of compatibility with respect to the Ridesharing Bill 2016.
In my opinion, the Ridesharing Bill 2016, as introduced to the Legislative Council, is compatible with the human rights protected by the charter.
I base my opinion on the reasons outlined in this statement.
The purpose of the bill is to legalise the provision of ridesharing services in Victoria, impose duties on facilitators of ridesharing, provide exemptions for ridesharing from certain provisions under the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983, and amend the Transport Integration Act 2010 to recognise the undertaking of rideshare journeys as a transport service.
Right to privacy and reputation
Section 13 of the charter provides a person with the right not to have his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with; and not to have his or her reputation unlawfully attacked.
Clause 6 of the bill sets out a number of requirements that must be met before a rideshare facilitator can enter into a rideshare driver arrangement with a person. Some of these requirements will include criminal history, and driving history (such as current licensing), access to which will be necessary for confirmation. These provisions are designed to ensure that passengers are safe, and that rideshare facilitators meet basic standards of driver experience and character.
In my view this does not inappropriately limit the right, as seeking such information prior to employment is common practice in most industries, and necessary to promote public safety.
Right to be presumed innocent
Section 25(1) of the charter provides that a person charged with a criminal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.
Clause 6(1)(d) of the bill requires that a facilitator not enter into a rideshare driver arrangement with a person who is subject to a charge for a category 1 offence that has not been finally disposed of. This provision ensures that arrangements are not entered into until these serious charges have been disposed of, avoiding both uncertainty of potential future breach, and risk to passengers.
In my view this does not inappropriately limit the right to be presumed innocent, as a person who is acquitted of such a charge may subsequently pursue an arrangement with a facilitator without the facilitator falling foul of the provision.
Right not to be punished more than once
Section 26 of the charter provides that a person has the right not to be tried or punished more than once for an offence in respect of which he or she has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with law.
Clause 6 of the bill provides that a rideshare driver arrangement may only be entered into when the driver meets certain requirements. According to the requirements, a rideshare facilitator may not enter into such an arrangement with a person who, in the last 10 years, has been found guilty of various offences, or in some circumstances not yet had the offence discharged.
This provision promotes passenger safety, and the construction of category 1 offences and category 2 offences are in line with the current requirements for commercial passenger vehicles under the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983.
Additionally, restricting access to specific employment based on offence history exists in a variety of legislation. As rideshare drivers will conceivably be carrying passengers who may be vulnerable, it is crucial to ensure the safety of these passengers through requirements. In my opinion this is not a contravention of the right.
For the reasons above, I consider that the Ridesharing Bill 2016, as introduced to the Legislative Council, is compatible with the human rights protected by the charter.
(Northern Metropolitan) — I move:
That the bill be now read a second time.
I present for the house’s consideration the Ridesharing Bill 2016. This bill seeks to legalise ridesharing in Victoria.
Ridesharing has been operating in Victoria since 2012, though reading the various iterations of transport legislation we can see it in fact existed in some forms as early as the 1920s. The ridesharing we see today largely consists of platforms designed to allow drivers to accept jobs from passengers, who make their request through the relevant platform facilitated by an application. Such systems are an example of collaborative consumption, or sharing economies.
Companies such as Uber, Airbnb and various music streaming platforms are often characterised by the coordination of peer-to-peer-based sharing through online services.
These innovative industries capitalise on information technology developments, the ubiquity of mobile phones, and the widespread use of social media. According to a 2014 paper by George Mason University, these services ‘can improve consumer welfare by offering new innovations, more choices, more service differentiation, better prices and higher quality services’. In a 2015 report PricewaterhouseCoopers suggested that, by 2025, ‘five key sharing sectors — travel, car sharing, finance, staffing, music and video streaming — have the potential to increase in global revenue from roughly $15 billion today to around $335 billion’.
Ridesharing shouldn’t be viewed as a negative competitor for the transport system — rather, these platforms are filling a gap in the market, representing an affordable alternative for consumers and a unique income stream for car owners.
These systems require trust. Poor reviews, bad word of mouth, or multiple complaints can kill these industries. This is appropriate, as a decentralised approach requires checks and balances.
As such, my aim in this bill is to capture the complex relationships that comprise ridesharing, while imposing a number of duties on rideshare facilitators aimed to promote accountability and safety for consumers.
Part 1 of the bill provides definitions for rideshare application, rideshare driver, rideshare driver arrangement, rideshare platform, rideshare journey, and rideshare facilitator. A rideshare journey refers to a journey in which a person is, or is to be, carried as a passenger in a motor vehicle as arranged under a rideshare platform. This would not capture a journey given through vehicle pooling, even if an application was used to facilitate the contact between individuals, as it has not been organised through a rideshare platform. A rideshare platform is narrowly defined, and is intended to capture systems specifically designed for the facilitation of rideshare journeys. A messaging application, or a social media website, through which a person could advertise or request driver services would not be automatically considered a rideshare platform. To be considered thus, the platform must meet certain elements. Clarifying these components, and the subsequent relationships between a rideshare facilitator and rideshare driver, are a key aspect of this bill.
This part also provides for varying commencement dates to allow for government regulation, and protection for current workers.
Part 2 imposes duties on those who own, operate or control rideshare platforms. Rideshare facilitators will have obligations such as ensuring that a rideshare application operates to display certain images and information. Facilitators will be prohibited from entering into arrangements with people who don’t meet minimum standards around driving experience and criminal history. These requirements are similar to the ones that apply to drivers of commercial passenger vehicles. The vehicles must meet registration requirements and be manufactured within the last 10 years. The bill takes a breach of these duties seriously, with penalties of up to $182 000 for an offence by a company.
Part 3 excludes ridesharing vehicles from the definition of commercial passenger vehicles in the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983, and incorporates ridesharing journeys into the definition of transport services under the Transport Integration Act 2010.
This bill is about protecting drivers from prosecution, protecting passengers undertaking rideshare journeys, and ensuring that our laws keep pace with innovative technologies that facilitate share economies.
Regulations will need to account for insurance, accreditation, health checks, and access to disability subsidies. It is appropriate and intended under this legislation, that the government introduce regulation that clarifies these points in detail. This bill enables this to occur by defining the relevant components and relationships of ridesharing, which allows us to start regulating these relationships.
I commend the bill to the house.
Debate adjourned on motion of Ms PULFORD (Minister for Agriculture).
Debate adjourned until Wednesday, 15 June.