The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) wants the Federal Government to set a date for the introduction of the mandatory scheme for the sharing of vehicle service and repair information.
In October last year, the Federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar committed the Federal Government to establish a new law that would compel car manufacturers to share mechanical repair and service information with the auto repair sector on fair and reasonable commercial terms.
The Minister’s decision to commit to a stand-alone law was based on a mandatory system as recommended by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 2017 after it found considerable consumer detriment and potential abuse of market power could now occur and that existing voluntary systems are ineffective.
The new law is now expected before the end of 2020 and it will be designed to provide a fairer playing field for the repair and service of the 74 brands of vehicles available in Australia in an industry worth $25 billion annually.
AAAA CEO Stuart Charity said he was encouraged by recent communication from the Assistant Treasurer which said in part that: “Progressing the Motor Vehicle Scheme remains a priority for me and for the Government. As the Government’s priorities are now shifting toward the recovery of the Australian economy, supporting small businesses, such as independent repairers, is as important as ever.”
Mr Charity said he was grateful for Minister Sukkar’s commitment, his continued engagement with the industry, and his support for the new Motor Vehicle Scheme.
“I know Covid-19 has the government occupied but now more than ever 30,000 independent repairers and workshops need access to this information so they can recover from the economic consequences of the pandemic quicker,” he said.
Mr Charity, along with AAAA’s Director of Government Relations, Lesley Yates, are Australia’s representatives on the Global Automotive Right to Repair Committee. The committee met earlier this month to collaborate in the worldwide movement for automotive consumer rights and to counter the efforts of large multinational car companies preventing consumer efforts to repair products by denying access to critical repair information.
Mr Charity said Canada, South Africa, and the US all reported significant progress.
“Australia is on the verge of a new law to protect Australia’s 18 million car owners from the potential price gouging that can occur when drivers must return to the car dealer for repair and service,” he said.
“The amount of control that vehicle manufacturers exert over the aftermarket is a global issue. Every nation is working to limit the power these companies have to capture the consumer for the life of the vehicle, reducing competition and driving up the price of car ownership.
“What we are looking to do in Australia is nothing more than the Americans have had in place for the past eight years. Both the authorised dealers and the independent sector continue to operate in parallel offering choice and quality services to consumers who are free to select a repairer based on their own preferences and circumstances.
“No car owner should be forced to take the car back to a dealer because the car manufacturers have artificially manipulated the market by withholding software updates and reinitialization codes.”
Mr Charity said another compelling reason to have the change come into effect as soon as possible was the massive increase in the sale of used vehicles.
“Most industry experts believe the increase is because commuters are preferring to drive to and from work rather than risk infection while taking public transport,” he said.
“We are really pleased to be hearing that this law will happen before the end of this year,” he said. “We expect that with no international travel, Australians will be getting into their cars and exploring the country over the Christmas holidays.
“Our members have suffered significant decreases in their turnover for the past six months and getting the scheme in place before Christmas will be vital for them to get back to a sustainable commercial position and more importantly, to support Australian families to travel safely in reliable, well serviced vehicles.”