Many Sydneysiders woke up to the news this morning that the collaborative economy – essentially companies like Uber, Airtasker and AirBnB, contributed $500 million the New South Wales economy last year. 45,000 people are estimated to have earned an income through one of these services, according to research commissioned from Deloitte.
These numbers were released by the NSW government, as it pats itself on the back for finally embracing the 21st century. The government recently legalised Uber and other ridesharing services, promising a $250 million compensation package for the taxi industry, whose
coercive monopoly is over licenses will be worth a whole lot less.
But let’s not forget that this $500 million benefit has come about despite these services having to operate in the shadows. Consumers have benefited from better service and more options, and incumbents have had to compete by launching apps, but the government has made it harder at every step. It wasn’t too long ago that Uber’s Sydney offices were raided, or its drivers’ car registration suspended.
The hate against incumbents is unfortunate. A lot of investment has taken place in these industries. And it may not be replicated in an environment where laws are ditched the moment something sexier comes along. But how much bigger would that $500 million be if we had government policy that was quicker to embrace the present, not the past?