Government | Regulation

Disruption and regulation in the new economy

Policymakers and innovators need to work together to shape regulation around disruptive technologies, a panel of industry leaders told a CEDA audience in Canberra at State of the Nation 2016.

Uber Australia and New Zealand General Manager, David Rohrsheim referenced the Federal Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Bill Shorten’s State of the Nation address from earlier in the day.

“The Opposition Leader was really making the case that innovation is great – hurrah – but you need to do a better job of selling it,” he said.

“(Uber) had a better idea of how to get around the city; which would be cheaper, more reliable, safer, create jobs, help work on congestion. We had a problem that we wanted to fix as staff members – frankly, a personal problem. No grander vision than that, just trying to figure out our own problems and how to get around the city better.

“We started from there, and we didn’t have a grand plan to disrupt this or that.

“Clearly we didn’t spend enough time with the policymakers early on – we were single-minded about launching something we thought was great. Which I think has since been proven to be great.

“No one in a start-up has got time to come visit Canberra, or has the resources, or even knows who to call. So the plan was to build something we wanted to use, and take it from there.

“We’ve since been engaged a lot more in explaining, ‘Okay, what are we doing and what are the benefits from it?’”
Mr Rohrsheim said that one way Uber was getting better at explaining to the public how their service was beneficial, was speaking in simple terms – talking about “innovation in real minutes”.

“We’re saying this commute takes this many minutes longer than it should – so we’re getting better at explaining what we do,” he said.
Tesla Energy Business Manager, Regional Development, Lara Olsen said that Australia needed to regulate for outcomes – not technologies.

“The exciting thing about storage is, up until now we’ve had limited ways in which we would use storage. But I think with the lithium batteries that are coming out, and others, it provides a way that is more… adaptable and affordable,” she said.

“In terms of policy, the important thing is – and this is something we try to do now – not to regulate for technologies, but to regulate for outcomes.

“Because our technologies, other technologies, are changing overnight. So it’s only when you regulate for outcomes that you can really get that technology coming to be the solution.”

Australia Post Executive General Manager, Trusted eCommerce Solutions, Andrew Walduck described how Australia Post were exploring options in which regulation hadn’t yet caught up with the technology available.

“As we perhaps approach our parcel delivery business, this notion of delivering via drone… Well, we can’t make any forecasts around what will happen inside of this space – but we know that we need to learn,” he said.

“This year we started a process, and we did a closed trial… We wanted to understand just how this type of technology could facilitate the delivery of a parcel. It was a closed trial, in a very contained way, and it was just ensuring and understanding the fundamentals of how that technology could deliver a parcel.”

Mr Walduck said more trials needed to be conducted in order to determine how the public would feel about parcel delivery via drones, and what regulation changes were necessary for the idea to become viable.

“We want to run another trial, another trial that is taking the advances that have happened inside of that technology that test a couple of really important things,” he said.

“One is, what’s the customers experience? Do people really ultimately want this? Do they feel safe? What about their privacy, what’s their experience like when they actually receive a parcel that way? Is that something that they want? And that will help to inform not only the design and technology, but ultimately what that offer might be shaped to be.

“The second part about it is: where does it test a bit of the regulation? The technology now enables you to be able to fly a drone beyond the line of sight. And it also enables you, for an individual operator, to be able to fly more than one drone at a time. Now the regulation doesn’t allow for that…

“So whether it’s next year, or five years, or 10 years – when this thing materialises, we know we need to learn. We know we need to take an approach whereby we work together on how we can create something that is safe, and something that is reliable, and ensure it is something that customers can depend upon, as we then work into the future.”

Watch State of the Nation 2016 videos.