The Federal Election is now over and we finally have a result

During one of the longest election periods in living memory, we invested in a highly strategic effort to gain awareness of what is happening in our industry and to our customers, and more importantly to secure solid election commitments to fix it.

There can be little doubt that most people in our industry are aware of the more high profile components of our campaign during the election.  Whilst many other activities occurred behind the scenes, it was common knowledge that hundreds of workshops made direct representation to their local MPs, MPs and candidates conducted visits to local constituent premises and you are no doubt aware that we met with every major political party and released an Election Scorecard (see AAAA Scores Political Parties’ Policies on Vehicle Data Sharing article) detailing all of the formal election commitments that we had gained from Labor, The Coalition, Nick Xenophon Team, Ricky Muir (AMEP) and The Greens.

The short summary of the Election Score card is that every Party acknowledged that the consumer should chose who repairs their car – a principle endorsed by everyone and acknowledged as a pre-condition to a fair and competitive market. As we expected we achieved varying levels of commitment on a formal review process from everyone. Each Party positon varies slightly on how to conduct the review and many of these commitments stated that they were aware of failings in the current voluntary Heads of Agreement.

The Greens formally adopted a position in favour of a Mandatory Code. The Labor Party expressed their support for consumer choice. Ricky Muir promised to push for a Mandatory Industry Code (see Make It Mandatory: Automotive Repair Code Of Practice article) and he launched a draft of this code prior to Election Day (sadly we do not think we will see Ricky Muir back in the Senate for this election term). The Coalition provided a commitment that we were pleased to receive. Actually we were delighted to see that after so many representations to the Government, there can be no doubt that we finally succeeded in shaping their policy commitment. The words used in their formal election commitment were our words, they offered solid commitments with clear timelines, a process and clear outcomes. We could not have hoped for a better outcome and it is a clear endorsement for our strategy, our persistence and our determination. The Coalition stated that if re-elected, a Turnbull Government would commission an independent review of the current Agreement and its supplementary codes. They included a timeline – this review is to be commissioned within three months of the election. Most importantly, the Coalition committed to include consideration of a national mandatory portal.

You may not be as delighted as we are; the thought that we went through all of this process for yet another review may be received with some despair. This is because most repairers have already conducted their own review in the form of real life every day experiences of not being able to access software updates, PIN codes or TSBs. Most repairers have already given the voluntary process a resounding fail. But the commitment from the re-elected Turnbull Government goes much further than that. Firstly the timeline – this is warmly welcomed by us, a clear timeline creates almost a contract between us, it gives the process a sense of urgency and it helps to counter the car manufacturers greatest weapon – stall and delay. We have an agreement that within three months we will have a review and we have already written to the Minister to start this process.

What else do we have? For the first time in this campaign, the government of the day has used the M word – MANDATORY. The fact that the review will consider how the Agreement has (not) worked, how the parties to the Agreement have behaved, how consumers are disadvantaged – this is great. But what is even better is that the Government will start to canvass the options for solving the problem, including a mandatory data sharing portal, as part of the Review process. This is a great win for our industry and for consumers. What this effectively means is that we have a review, that we have no doubt will discover that the voluntary Agreement is not working and more importantly we will have our preferred option evaluated as a solution – all in the same process.

So what happens now? We continue with the same determination and the same energy that we have shown for the past seven years. We gather strong evidence, we work ethically and tirelessly and we work together as a team. We stick to the truth and to the principle of fair and open competition on fair and reasonable terms. We go back to government as quickly as we can and we hold them to their promises.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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