The Australian Senate has passed the Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Information Sharing Scheme Bill which will make it illegal for car companies to withhold information from qualified independent mechanics.
Stuart Charity, CEO of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), said the mandatory scheme will require all motor vehicle service and repair information to be made available for purchase by independent repairers at a fair market price. The scheme will be monitored for compliance by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
“It has been a long time coming but [this] will be welcome news for the automotive industry,” said Charity. “We started campaigning for this law a decade ago and have been through two government inquiries and even through a voluntary agreement in 2014 which was a complete failure.”
The Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce (VACC) said the “world-leading legislation” fulfills a government commitment for a mandatory scheme to compel car manufacturers to share technical information when the law comes into force on 1 July next year.
“Australia’s global policy leadership is again highlighted as one of the few global jurisdictions to legislate a fair and balanced outcome for Australian consumers and automotive businesses,” said Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the VACC. “Automotive service and repair businesses will have strengthened rights to repair Australia’s 20 million-strong fleet by accessing manufacturers’ and data providers’ service and repair information at reasonable prices. Australian motorists will also know their chosen repairer has access to critical service and repair information.”
The VACC congratulated the government – particularly Assistant Treasurer and Housing Minister Michael Sukkar – for “championing” the law.
“Minister Sukkar recognised the need for a practical solution and persisted despite sometimes seemingly insurmountable odds,” said Gwilym. Charity also praised Sukkar, saying, “He has personally steered this through government and we thank him for his leadership.”
According to the VACC, work is already underway to assist the Department of Treasury in designing information-sharing scheme rules. Peak automotive organisations, manufacturers, information providers and the Department will work collaboratively to finalise the rules, mechanisms and processes to implement the scheme smoothly in 2022.
Charity said the law is the result of unprecedented industry co-operation, with more than 75 workshops hosting visits from their local MPs to demonstrate what happens when vehicle manufacturers withhold software updates and technical service bulletins.
“We don’t have a very politicised membership, and for our small owner-operated workshops to get onboard with direct emails and contact with their local MP – [this] is the best indicator we have that this is important to our members and to their customers,” said Charity.