More than 124,000 confidential documents have been leaked to Britain’s Guardian newspaper that outline Uber’s guerrilla strategy that involved dodging police, undermining regulators, and undisclosed meetings with politicians.
Rod Barton MP believes none of what has come to light should be surprising.
These leaked files will have ramifications around the world, and Barton expects Victoria will be no different.
Documents revealed that Uber planned to spend $90 million in 2016 on lobbying and public relations alone. Victorian taxi drivers recall that time clearly, 2016 was the year the Victorian Government announced plans to legalise Uber and de-regulate the taxi industry.
The Guardian reported of one Uber executive joking they had become “pirates” and another saying, “We’re just f****** illegal.” It was also found that internal emails among staff referred to Uber’s “other than legal status.”
This is the Uber playbook.
The Victorian regulator, the CPVV, has been played off a break. They have bent over backwards to allow Uber into the market, even allowing them into the Multi- Purpose Taxi Program, a fare subsidy for those with a disability.
This is a business that is reported to have been “weaponizing” drivers and putting drivers’ safety at risk to “keep the controversy burning.”
Uber entered the market illegally in 2014 luring drivers and passengers by offering highly subsidised trips that were not sustainable.
Now we have 120,000 drivers on Victorian roads fighting for a smaller piece of the pie each day. The industry is in mayhem.
The de-regulation of the taxi industry and the legitimising of Uber’s exploitative practices have come at a tremendous cost to some of our most vulnerable workers.
The UberFiles investigation has been coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICJI). The ICIJ is working with 42 media partners around the world on the story.
With tens of thousands of documents to examine, Barton believes a number of Uber advocates close to home will be getting nervous.
The house of cards is slowly coming down and no one, not even the French President, can avoid this reckoning.
Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Metropolitan and the Leader of the Transport Matters Party Rod Barton MP:
“The regulator will likely plead ignorance when it comes to what they knew about Uber’s illegal business practices, but no one can be so blind… this is not news to anyone in the industry.”
“Given just how many confidential files have been leaked it is likely we will see similar stories published about Uber’s activity in Australia.”
“I think a number of Uber advocates may now be asking themselves if Uber is fit and proper entity to be operating in Victoria.”