Deputy CEO Monthly Message
From an optics point of view, the May MTA Queensland Board meeting was the best. Amidst innovative gadgetry, emerging technologies, entrepreneurs and influential thinkers and speakers at the Myriad festival, your Board deliberated on bread and butter issues of the motor trades, the membership and the Association. Equally good was the Board Directors spending time in our space at the festival – the Garage – speaking with staff and visitors and exploring the many exhibitors which had flocked to be part of Myriad.
Nothing happens without thought and effort! Corporate office staff excelled in making the Garage interesting with badging, start-ups and projects from our innovation hub – MTAiQ - and promotional literature. The overwhelming feedback from the many visitors to the Garage was positive and undoubtedly increased the profile of the Association. Group Chief Executive Officer Dr Brett Dale’s presentation on ‘Future of Mobility, New business models and Smart Cities’ positioned the automotive value chain at the centre of the festival’s focus on the emerging technological and innovative transformations impacting industries and society.
MTA Queensland Board meeting
The divisional reports highlighted business conditions, focus and activities. Two consistent messages were expressed. The first was the general economic improvement assisted by outlays on new and pending infrastructure and commercial and industrial projects across the State. The second was the recognition that ‘change’ was occurring in each of the sectors at a ‘pace not experienced before’ which required adaption and innovation.
Service Station and Convenience Store Association of Queensland (SSCSAQ) Chair Tim Kane reported the exponential increase in regulatory requirements arising from State government decisions. The Liquid Fuel Supply (Ethanol and Other Biofuels Mandate) Amendment Act 2015 enacted costly compliance obligations on fuel retailers with 10 or more service stations or selling more than 250,000 litres a quarter at a single station. Now, the decision has been made to commence a two-year trial of real-time petrol price reporting in Queensland. Currently, there has been no departmental clarification of how the data will be collected and reported to the public. Although popular with consumers, the fear for fuel retailers is more ‘red tape’ will be imposed.
The Queensland Police Service (QPS) initiated discussions with the SSCSAQ on the long-running issue of fuel theft and drive-offs. The Committee was pleased to provide further thoughts and ideas as it had been contributing to a 2014 Queensland Loss and Crime Committee on the issue. The Rental Vehicle Industry division also had a recent meeting with the QPS on a range of issues relevant to its membership.
A long-term issue for the Tyre and Under Car division has been the disposal of used tyres. Nationally, in the past year, some 56.3 million tyres reached their end-of-life of which only 10 per cent were recycled domestically. The rest were dumped, going into land fill etc. Chair Brad Collett detailed the Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme (the scheme) or the Green Tyre Project (GTP) initiated by the Australian Tyre Industry Council and supported by the leading tyre manufactures with Australian Competition and Commission (ACCC) approval.
The GTP is focused on recycling tyres in an environmentally sustainable way for a range of uses from road surfacing to brake pads. The scheme is funded by a levy of 25 cents per ‘equivalent passenger unit’ on the sales of new tyres. The retailer has the choice to add the levy into the cost of the tyre or charge it separately. The TUD intends to encourage voluntary applications for accreditation under the Scheme.
An interesting observation from Central Queensland region was the impact of the Banking Royal Commission evidence and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s activities on motor vehicle sales. Financiers were changing lending criteria and consequently car loans were harder to obtain, and some customers have had applications declined. Concern is being expressed about the economic impact of the lost sales on businesses and on the new vehicle market.
The months of May and June are the time my focus turns to the content of the Commonwealth and State budgets, participation in divisional meetings and attending to any issues that may emerge from these. The Queensland budget will be delivered on Tuesday, 12th June. I’ll post an overview on the website detailing any initiatives relevant to the motor trades or training.
The Commonwealth budget included initiatives that we had sought in our pre-budget submission. This included: taxation reform measures; a further extension of the $20,000 instant asset tax write-off for SMEs with an up to $10 million annual turnover and additional training initiatives.
Responses were lodged to two consultation papers. These were to the Commonwealth Treasury’s Regulation Impact Statement relating to the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) Review: Clarification, simplification and modernisation of the consumer guarantee framework and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services’ inquiry into the operation and effectiveness of the Franchising Code of Conduct.
I’ve now turned my mind to the National Transport Commission’s call for submissions to the safety assurance for automated driving systems consultation Regulation Impact Statement. The purpose of the consultation is to gather evidence on safety assurance options to address the anticipated risks of commercial deployment of automated vehicles. Currently, Australia’s existing laws and regulations do not recognise automated vehicles or provide assurance of their safe design or operation. Overseas governments are considering automated vehicle safety assurance but, at present, there is not an international consensus approach.
As I prepare Viewpoint, the ACCC has underway its ‘Scams Awareness week’. The key message is urging Australians to be on the look-out for threat-based impersonation scams by taking a moment to ‘Stop and check: is this for real?’ And there is a sound reasons to do so! In 2017, the ACCC, the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network and other government organisations such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) received over 200,000 scam reports with reported losses exceeding $340 million. This was an increase of $40 million over 2016 losses. The ACCC received over 161,500 scam reports with $90.9 million in financial losses which represents an eight per cent increase in reported losses over 2016. These increasing losses demonstrate the continuing harm caused by scams on the Australian public.
The ATO is working towards a digital tax revolution that ultimately will result in the demise of the group certificate. From the 2018-19 financial year, the phase out will begin commencing with companies with 20 employees or more. The group certificate will almost disappear by 2020 when small employers are brought into the process. The ATO is moving increasingly towards online tax returns, and pre-filling them with information to which it already has access. In the next few years, this could mean individual taxpayers and small businesses may no longer need tax agents for straightforward returns.
Congratulations are due to the Automotive Remarketing Division (ARD) for its innovative solution to the long-term issue of checking recalls on vehicles. ARD members envisaged a digital APP as a more appropriate means of checking vehicles than a desktop-based program. Consequently, a simple mobile platform was built to assist members and the industry to check for outstanding recalls on vehicles. The timing is favourable, particularly with the growing list of compulsory recall of vehicles with Takata airbags which will take many years to be completed. Remember the MTAiQ’s offer to assist members with problems where potential innovative solutions are required we look forward to hearing some ideas.
Until July, take care and stay safe.
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