Talks in gridlock on Uber start-up
THE Northern Territory Government remains locked in a stalemate with Uber and other ridesharing companies with no sign of a compromise.
Bringing Uber to the Territory was a key election promise from Labor — in opposition, now-Chief Minister Michael Gunner even took part in a campaign stunt which saw him deliver ice cream to Darwin residents alongside the ridesharing service.
But the relationship has since turned frosty, with both sides refusing to budge on proposed changes to the regulatory framework needed to allow the company to operate here.
In April, Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison announced a suite of reforms — worked through with a steering committee which included representatives from Uber — which was intended to open the market to ridesharing. Those changes were supposed to come into effect this year, but have been put on hold indefinitely until an operator agrees to set up in the NT.
Uber spokesman Mike Scott said the proposed model, which would cost drivers close to $600 to get on the road, more than in most other jurisdictions, presented “excessive barriers” to potential drivers.
“We’ve been consistent in our position that ridesharing will only work in the NT if licensing and accreditation for drivers is both affordable and efficient,” he said.
“We know Territorians are looking for more transport choice, and we remain open to working with the NT Government.”
Uber has taken particular exception to the proposed $1 ride levy, which the Government wants to put in place to plug the revenue gap from planned reductions to taxi licence fees.
Ms Manison said Labor was still committed to bringing ridesharing to the NT, but indicated the government was unwilling to give in to Uber.
“We believe the regulatory model promotes a fair go for passengers, drivers and operators,” she said.