Legal experts have expressed concern over the ride-sharing app Uber’s plans to use ride-booking services, such as Lyft, to increase its revenue, saying it could be a “catastrophic risk” for Australian drivers.
“We believe that there are risks of this type that need to be looked at,” former senior attorney with the Australian Law Reform Institute, Mark Watson, said in a statement to ABC News.
“The technology could potentially be used by companies to increase revenue or to take the taxi business from Australians, and this could have a serious impact on the industry,” Mr Watson said.
Uber has confirmed that it plans to roll out the ride service on select routes in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
It is currently the only city in Australia where it operates.
Mr Watson, who has advised several US car and taxi companies on the law, including the US car services company Lyft, also said the technology was not a silver bullet.
“I don’t see the way this technology is going to help the taxi industry or help the car industry in Australia,” he said.
“It could lead to a lot of disruption.”
Uber says it is “not currently” planning to use the technology.
The company has also faced criticism for the use of an app that enables passengers to book and pay for their rides through the app.
The app, which uses a credit card to collect fares, has been used by several other companies including Lyft.
The Federal Government is yet to make a decision on whether to regulate the use or whether to allow ride-sharers to operate their services in Australia.
However, a recent study by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) found that ride-services like Uber and Lyft were subject to “significant taxation” under the Taxation Act, which is meant to protect Australians from unfair competition.
The ATO is calling on the Government to ensure ride-service companies comply with all relevant laws, regulations and court orders, and is calling for an independent regulatory body to investigate ride-hire drivers.
Mr Turnbull has said that he wants ride-shares to be subject to the same rules as taxis.
“Taxi companies have a duty to ensure that drivers are licensed, are fully insured, that they are operating under the law,” he told a press conference in July.
“So if a taxi driver is found to be operating a taxi in a way that is contrary to those requirements, then that driver will be subject, and that will be part of the inquiry that will come to us as a result of that inquiry.”
Mr Watson also said that while ride-Shares were currently “in the nascent stage”, the industry needed to be regulated “to ensure that Australians have a safe and secure ride-assist service that they can rely on”.