Deputy CEO Monthly Message
I’ve just celebrated 15 years of service with the MTA Queensland. In that time, I’ve worked with members on many complex industry and policy issues but none that has been all consuming. That is until now, following the Federal Government’s compulsory Takata airbag recall after an intensive Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) investigation. The ACCC’s Recall Notice guidelines, processes and procedures has engulfed me totally in an ocean of detail.
Overall, I’ve comprehended these to respond to member’s queries about their stock and their obligations.
All automotive sectors are impacted by the recall, including vehicle manufacturers, authorised vehicle dealers, independent secondhand vehicle dealers, suppliers of spare parts, grey importers and Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme participants, and recyclers and auction houses. Each has their own specific guidelines. In all, the recall applies to 2.7 million cars. Any vehicle under the active recall cannot be sold until the airbags are replaced. All replacements must be completed by 31 December 2020, unless the ACCC approves the date variation.
The ACCC has on its website specific guidance requirements and the obligations for each impacted sector. To further help members we issued a Member Notice with the Recall details.
Whilst the Recall Notice is wide in its application, it’s our Auto Parts Recyclers, Automotive Engineers and Auto Remarketing divisions and the National Auto Collision Alliance which have had an array of questions for resolution. Some were able to be resolved from a study of the guidelines, other complex questions were forwarded to the ACCC Takata Taskforce for clarification.
One matter that attracted several queries related to vehicles sold through auction houses to which advise was sought. The Product Safety Australia website has been updated to include guidance material for auction houses and businesses that sell vehicles under auction conditions. Auction houses must ensure that they comply with their obligations under the Consumer Goods (Motor Vehicles With Affected Takata Airbag Inflators and Specified Spare Parts) Recall Notice 2018 (the Recall Notice) when they are considered to be supplying vehicles. More generally, I encourage members to be alert to the requirements of the Recall Notice by monitoring the ACCC website and reading our weekly bulletins for updates.
Aside from the compulsory Takata airbag recall, the ACCC has its focus on improving the safety of quad bikes which is one of the leading causes of fatalities on farms. It has proposed major changes to improve the safety of quad bikes. This includes the introduction of a safety rating system, crush protection or rollover protection devices in the design of new quad bikes, and mandatory minimum performance standards. The ACCC has developed a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement detailing the proposed options to make quad bikes safer which has just arrived in the email in-box. I’ll discuss its contents and any response with our Farm and Industrial Machinery Dealer Division Chair David Fraser and Motorcycle Industry Division Chair Paul Petersen.
Policy activity is continuing apace.
The Australian Treasury is winding up a body of Australian Consumer Law (ACL) work of some three years duration. At present it has a consultation regulation impact statement (RIS) for comment pertaining to the ACL: Clarification, simplification and modernisation of the consumer guarantee framework. The purpose of the consultation is to seek comment on the regulatory options under consideration in order to determine the relative costs and benefits of the options. We’ve been active participants in the ACL consultations throughout the process and will make a submission.
The Senate Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services is conducting an inquiry into the operation and effectiveness of the Franchising Code of Conduct and has wide terms of reference. Checking my records, we’ve been contributors on matters pertaining to the Code since 2007 and will continue to do so.
Members interested in this inquiry may access details at: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees. Members’ comments would be welcome. The due date is 4 May 2018.
I met with Australian Financial Authority officers for a general discussion on the Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR). We are of the view that it is functioning well and from our perspective have no specific concerns raised with us from members. For motor dealers, and indeed individuals, the PPSR is an excellent tool providing a detailed vehicle history report and a PPSR certificate.
Poor publicity about the banking industry has had at least one good outcome. The Australian Banking Association has submitted to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission for approval a new Banking Code of Conduct of Practice. The retail banks will be required to sign up to the new Code as a condition of membership to the Australian Banking Association.
There are welcome new changes including plain English contracts, ending unsolicited offers of credit card increases, the mandated ability for customers to cancel a credit card online, and improved transparency around fees by telling customers about service fees immediately they occur. There will be a 12-month implementation period for the Code once ASIC has given its approval and will have force of the law.
Now more than ever, individuals and businesses have to be vigilant to protect their data and finances. There is a proliferation of scams from malware and ransomware to online shopping to phone crime. At present there is a spate of phone scammers calling on behalf of communication providers about reported internet and national broadband network (NBN) problems or offering cut price NBN connections. Be cautious when calling or returning a missed call to an unfamiliar telephone number – it could be a costly international telephone call. You may be unaware that some of these numbers are actually costly international ‘pay-per-call’ numbers, where a portion of your international long-distance charge goes to pay for the information or entertainment.
Another fraudulent tactic that has caught some local governments, is callers posing as a contractor for the purpose of changing bank details for payments.
I’ve long had an interest in road safety, so I was disappointed that the State Government did not invite the Association to its recent road safety forum. Its focus was to discuss ways to curb driver distraction and improve safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Obviously, we were not regarded as a stakeholder which is surprising as the advanced technical changes sweeping the automotive manufacturing sector has the potential to make a quantum change in road safety.
I noted that the Australian Trucking Association, in its submission to the national road safety strategy, indicated that Australia should adopt a ‘towards zero’ philosophy and set a long-term target for zero deaths and serious injuries on the nation’s roads. It incorporates safe roads, safe vehicles, safe speeds and safe people. This is a worthy goal to which all vehicle users should aspire. Another idea is in the National Road and Motorists Association Come Home Safe report. One of the key recommendations is to assist young drivers into safer vehicles by offering a registration discount to provisional drivers who register a 5-star Australian New Car Assessment Program safety rated vehicle.
The 2017 road toll of 250 fatalities is not just about adhering to road rules but personal responsibility as a driver and care in all actions.
A highlight has been the eagerly anticipated Cars and Coffee event held on the last Sunday of every month from 7.30 am to 9.30 am. Due to family commitments I arrived a bit late for our first event and was overjoyed to see our car park full of gleaming vehicles ranging from the rare to the classic and spilling over into neighboring car spaces. There’s a special camaraderie between car enthusiasts but equally nice is their willingness to share experiences and insights with the interested public. I noted the sausage sizzle with our staff volunteers was doing a brisk trade, the takings go to the MTA Queensland-supported Youngcare charity.
Until May, take care and stay safe.
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