Talks in grid­lock on Uber start-up

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - HAY­LEY SORENSEN

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.

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