Uber Australian chief hits State Government over long wait for accreditation at leaders’ debate

Lauren Novak, Political Reporter, The Advertiser

March 17, 2017 9:10pm

UBER’s Australian general manager has criticised the State Government over the long wait to finalise accreditation for the ride-share company to operate in Adelaide.

Addressing about 650 business leaders at a lunch on Friday, Adelaide-raised David Rohrsheim said interstate UberX drivers could gain accreditation “in a matter of days” but it took weeks or months in South Australia.

“A fast turnaround matters,” he said.

The lunch event, which featured a debate between Premier Jay Weatherill and Opposition Leader Steven Marshall a year out from the next state election, was sponsored by Uber.

The debate was sponsored by Uber. Picture: Mike Burton

A government spokeswoman later said it had offered to “case manage” Uber’s accreditation application and to “assist in fast-tracking driver applications, arranging vehicle inspections and other arrangements to ensure they are compliant with SA laws”.

“Uber could be accredited within 24 hours if they commit to abiding by streamlined regulations introduced last year,” she said.

Outside the event, at the Adelaide Convention Centre, taxi driver Darryl Nicholls staged a one-man protest against a $1 levy being charged on all passengers.

It was introduced by the State Government to compensate taxi licence plate owners and drivers after allowing new entrants, such as UberX, into the Adelaide market.

The change followed an independent review of the industry.

Mr Nicolls said he and colleagues were angry about the extra cost imposed on passengers.

“The public of South Australia don’t need another tax, a passenger tax,” said Mr Nicholls, who was runner-up in the 2015 Taxi Driver of the Year Awards.

“Another $1 on top of their fare, we think that’s very unfair.”

An Uber spokesman said the company was in negotiations with the Government to gain accreditation in SA.

In the meantime, all its drivers underwent background checks and were fully insured, he said.

The lunch event was jointly organized by Business SA and the Property Council.

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