There’s No Point Railing Against The Sharing Economy: Tourism Minister

Hannah Edensor

When it comes to the sharing economy, Minister for Tourism Senator Richard Colbeck thinks it’s a fact of life that’s here to stay. So when you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

“The sharing economy is already contributing to the tourism sector and it will continue to. I don’t think it really matters what governments might want to occur – it’s a fact of life and it’s here. The issue now comes down to how we regulate it and manage it,” Colbeck told the burgeoning crowd at Travel DAZE last Monday.

“There needs to be, in my view, fair and reasonable regulatory processes across the sector. There’s probably an opportunity in, perhaps let’s break it into two – ride sharing versus accommodation, you’ve already seen a process where a number of states have started to open up the ride sharing side of things.

“We’ve talked about it at our Ministerial meeting in January in Western Australia; my hope would be that the regulatory frameworks are as common as possible across all jurisdictions so that people understand what the story and the regulations are. And, pleasingly, the state Ministers decided that they would do that as far as possible.

“There will be some transitional pain as that occurs. It doesn’t matter what sector of the economy you look at when you have some sort of disruption come in that there is some pain as the economy transitions in a particular sector.

“In the accommodation sector I think there is probably an opportunity for some regulatory reform in the established economy that might make things a bit easier for them and I think that that should be the attitude.

“There is certainly some regulatory requirements that, perhaps, need to be enforced rather than put in place because having been on local government before coming to the Senate I know that conducting a business in a private residence requires specific approval from local government so I think enforcement is probably one of the issues that exists in that space but the opportunity for some regulatory reform across accommodation to make things a bit more common might be of benefit to everybody.

“They are a fact of life; they will continue to be part of the visitor economy so I don’t think there is too much point in trying to rail against it. It’s about making sure that the regulatory frameworks that cover them all are as fair and as common as possible.”

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