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The NSW government is making history with bold moves to legalize their booming sharing economy. Services such as Uber & Airbnb have been taking the state by storm; employing thousands & allowing people to save money for basic services. Even though Uber has already been legalized; this new movement will shine the green light on other sharing businesses such as Airbnb. Even though thousands of people already use the site in NSW, due to lack of regulation it’s still technically illegal. Unsurprisingly, the news of the government’s actions sparked sharp criticism from hotels around NSW.
They voiced their concerns that the growing pains of the new sharing market are putting customers at risk. To emphasize the danger they pointed to a series of incidents involving Airbnb including assaults, accidents, orgies & drug raids. These concerns appear to be innocent until you realize how much money hotels stand to lose. After that, it’s easy to see that this debate is entirely money motivated.
For years the sharing economy has been rapidly gaining traction in NSW; with services such as Airbnb & Uber transforming the way people travel. With over 50% of NSW residents using these services, it’s clear to see that they are here to stay. The sharing economy brings in an estimated $500 million & 45,000 jobs to NSW alone. These figures are too enticing to resist; & even politicians know that the time has come to integrate this valuable niche into the Australian economy.
Recently the NSW government has been at the vanguard of this movement, revealing groundbreaking plans to regulate Uber last month. Now they have unveiled a bold plan to regulate the remaining sharing services. And help them transition into being legal pillars of the economy. NSW Innovation Minister Victor Dominello acknowledged that governments had to get with the times & embrace new technologies; if they wanted to stimulate innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs.
“It is transforming the way people do business in every city and every country around the world. The reality is the collaborative economy is here to stay,” he said.“We are living in the information age; and it is vital that government policies embrace new technologies; and enable businesses to operate with certainty.”
Even though the doomsday predicted by people who stand to lose money to these services is motivated by greed, their concerns are not entirely unfounded. It’s no secret that the lack of regulations for Airbnb has created some outrageous problems for users. The Winkler family became the poster child for these incidents; when their Gold Coast vacation was dramatically brought to an end; by a surprise drug raid on their rented home.
Unbeknownst to the Winklers, the homeowner was growing a small amount of marijuana in a blocked off the room. She told them that one of the rooms was undergoing renovations & to stay out of it. Even though the amount of weed being grown was petty & certainly not dangerous; it still attracted the attention of the police. Fitted in bulletproof vests, the police smashed down the front door & interrogated the entire Winkler family for over 5 hours. While no one was physically hurt, there’s no arguing that the Winkler Christmas vacation was ruined. This sparked a public outcry to regulate Airbnb, with hotel owners jumping on the opportunity to undermine their powerful rival.
These problems showcase the fact that these services deserve to be accepted & regulated; instead of being pushed into the shadows by remaining illegal. The key is finding a way to regulate these services to where they are safe for users; but affordable for hosts. If this turns into an expensive regulatory mania it will do nothing; but force little people out & destroy the very essence of these sharing services. If we can find the balance between basic regulation & hyped-up hysteria these services are looking at a bright future. We don’t need another witch hunt, just a few safety features to keep clients safe.
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