The ridesharing company known in Australia as UberX has been hotly debated in South Australia, where the local economy has been under immense strain. After hitting a 15-year high in unemployment, the State’s opposition party has proposed the service could help secure jobs for the region. But is that realistic?

UberX is currently illegal in South Australia, but the service has been legalised in Sydney and Melbourne. UberBlack is available in SA, but the more affordable version of the service remains blocked. As such, the opposition LNP has suggested that a new trial assess whether the App could add to the numbers of those gainfully employed in-state.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said there was no reason to delay the decision any further. “We know there have been 5,000 applicants for jobs working for Uber in South Australia,” he told the ABC. “We’re in the mix of a dangerous jobs crisis with the highest unemployment rate in the nation and we can’t see any reason to hold back an UberX trial.”

Though the American company has been keen to emphasise its role as a job creator (they claim to have generated more than 15,000 jobs in Australia since launching in 2014), critics have pointed to the problems with employment and the low level of job security offered by the App-based system.

“Our ridesharing platform has changed the way people earn a living, giving Aussies the chance to choose when they work, set their own schedule, and make decisions about their hours that fit into other work or family commitments,” noted David Rohrsheim, UberX General Manager in Australia, via a press release.
SA Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan says the Labor government will not commit to a trial until other criteria are assessed.

“We want to make sure that we’ve got high quality services and that the services are safe,” he said. “If there’s an opportunity for services like Uber to operate in the South Australian market then we’ll consider that, but it’s got to be a level playing field for all operators.”

But further up the chain, the SA Premier has been keen to lay the economic blame squarely at the feet of federal conservatives. According to Jay Weatherill, the Federal Government’s policies have irreparably damaged his state’s unemployment rate. “We have a Federal Government which is casting doubt on the future of our defence industries, has cast doubt on the future of our renewable energy industry and has made a decision to close our car industry,” he explained.

And it doesn’t seem like UberX can solve that problem…


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