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The Australian Constitution protecting our freedoms

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

ICA Executive Director Ken Phillips spoke at a ‘Liberty’ conference in Sydney over the weekend. With over 350 people in attendance and with more than 70 speakers it was a stimulating, ideas-packed weekend. Not everyone agreed with each other, but all present agreed on the right to speak freely.

Ken talked about how we at ICA have used the Australian Constitution to defend individual liberty, specifically the right of people to be self-employed. You might recall last year our:

In his presentation Ken explained how the Australian Constitution offers us protection for freedoms that are in ways largely unrecognised. We can do more in this area. Here is his presentation.

The liberty we seek to protect is the freedom to be self-employed, to be your own boss. This can be taken away from us in many ways. We saw this with the anti-truckie laws and through the bad behaviour of the Tax Office. The battle over the ‘gig’ economy is an area of this. It was discussed at the conference in relation to Uber and so on.

Uber has, in fact, made some errors in this area. Late last year Uber tried to stop drivers in New York from driving for competitors. This amounted to a removal of independence. Uber seemed to back off in order to correct this it seems!

In a positive move for the independence of the ‘gig’ economy, Florida has passed laws declaring that share-riding drivers are self-employed. But the ride-sharing companies (Uber, Lyft, etc.) must, in turn:
  • not unilaterally prescribe specific hours during which drivers should be logged into the digital network;
  • permit drivers to work for other ride-sharing services;
  • allow drivers to engage in any other occupation or business they desire; and
  • agree with the drivers in writing that the driver is an independent contractor.

These are sensible requirements re-inforcing independence.


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