UPDATED: Associations Express Mixed Views Over Government Mandatory Repair Information Paper

(UPDATE 13 Feb: This article has been updated with the MTA NSW’s response.)
Three automotive industry associations have expressed mixed reaction to the release of the federal government’s consultation paper on the introduction of a mandatory scheme for the sharing of vehicle service and repair information between car companies and independent repairers.

The AAAA said it welcomed the document’s release but warned that some aspects of the paper are inconsistent with the ACCC’s findings. VACC gave it a “lukewarm” reception and labelled it “weak”, while the Motor Traders’ Association of NSW “strongly welcomed” the Government’s commitment to guarantee independent repairers access to car manufacturers’ data.

“We strongly encourage the government to take onboard the full ACCC findings and recommendations relating to the attributes of a mandatory scheme, as the overriding objective of this scheme is to provide fair and open competition to promote choice and affordability for all Australian car owners,” said AAAA Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity.

“We are concerned about the language used throughout the consultation paper that relate to “exclusions” and “restrictions” that may be included in a mandatory code.  Of course, there will need to be safeguards in place to protect the security and integrity of vehicle related data, however vehicle security should not be used as an excuse by car companies to withhold critical information required to complete a vehicle repair or service.

“These terms were not used in the ACCC Final Report and if they are included in the final code, we have no doubt that car companies will fully exploit this by linking all required information to either security, safety or emissions, and in reality, nothing will have changed for consumers,” said Charity.

“In order for Australian consumers to be treated fairly when it comes to the scheduled servicing, maintenance and repair of their vehicles, car companies should not be able to decide who receives information based on their own definitions relating to safety, security and emissions. The ACCC’s Final Report recommended that all required technical information ‘be shared with independent repairers on commercially fair and reasonable terms, subject to appropriate safeguards to enable the sharing of environmental, safety and security-related technical information,’ and we fully support this recommendation,” he added.

The association is also concerned by the potential for manufacturers to determine the appropriate level of investment by independent workshops in order to access service and repair data. The AAAA believes this will allow vehicle manufacturers to charge exorbitant fees for information, special tools, training and equipment and is unworkable in a market of more than 70 car brands.

“We believe that after two separate government inquiries on this matter and over eight years of consultation, it is now time for the government to build on the ACCC’s findings and recommendations and implement a mandatory code as a matter of urgency,” said Charity.

VACC expressed disappointment over the paper’s lack of penalties for manufacturers that fail to comply with the directive.

“Frankly, this document is not worth the paper it’s printed on,” said VACC Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Gwilym. “If a ‘mandated code’ has no penalties for non-compliance it will not work in the real world.”

VACC wants the government to revise its paper to include significant penalties in a bid to garner largescale compliance.

“VACC has been calling for a mandated code for a long time now. We will not be satisfied until it is a genuine mandated code – this means that there are explicit penalties if manufacturers fail in their obligations to share the information for which they are obliged.”

Gwilym said the time for consultation has long since expired and that all sides of government need to get on with the job of making a mandated code a reality.

“All stakeholders know what’s expected. But relying on goodwill has simply not worked in the past. The industry needs the next federal government to mandate a code of conduct where expectations are fully explained, along with the ramifications for those OEMs who will not play fair.”

VACC said the Labor Party is on record as supporting a mandated code for the sharing of motor vehicle service and repair information, something Gwilym believes will become an election issue.

“In the lead-up to the next federal election, Australian motorists – all 15 million of them – will consider this significant consumer issue as they enter polling booths and decide on this country’s next federal government,” said Gwilym.

MTA NSW said the release of a consultation paper was a step in the right direction, and welcomed the intended creation of an advisory group which will include the association working alongside the national body, the MTAA.

“As the only NSW employer association to represent dealers, independent service providers, repairers, dismantlers/recyclers and other automotive industries, MTA NSW has worked closely over the last 24 months with MTAA to advocate to ensure any regulatory solution takes into account the needs of all automotive businesses and consumers,” said MTA NSW CEO, Stavros Yallouridis.

“We have proactively participated with the MTAA member states and territories to develop a draft code of conduct as a potential solution which has involved extensive analysis of both European and US practical experiences to ensure a pragmatic approach is achieved.

“The code of conduct must not advantage or disadvantage any service provider over another and ensure consumer choice and a level playing field for all automotive sector industry participants. If done correctly then there should be benefits for dealers, independent mechanical repairers and other repair providers,” added Yallouridis.

VACC Celebrates 100 Years Of Service To The Victorian Automotive Industry

Leading Victorian industry association, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) turns 100 today.

To mark the start of a three-day celebration, a bronze memorial plaque will be installed on VACC’s founding home, Cahill Chambers, formally known as the Bendigo Chamber of Commerce at View Point.

Additionally, the VACC Executive Board will sit for a special board meeting at Bendigo Town Hall, welcomed by the City of Greater Bendigo Mayor, Margaret O’Rourke.

VACC Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Gwilym said all VACC’s centenary celebrations will take place in Bendigo.

“We were determined to do so in acknowledgement of where we come from, and to say thank you to the people of Bendigo. Regional Victoria is very important to VACC, with half of our members residing there. Regional members have also been incredibly loyal over the years.”

Long-standing VACC members include Wilson Bolton of Horsham, which has just renewed its membership for the 100th time, Edneys of Leongatha which joined in 1920, and Donalda Motor Service in Maffra, which joined in 1925. Wangaratta Toyota has been a VACC member since 1927 and Bendigo business, Innes Motors joined VACC in 1927.

Formed on 20 September 1918 in Bendigo by three local motor dealers, brothers Henry and Percy Rickards, and Montague Simes, VACC was created to protect the local automotive industry from being overwhelmed by larger, overseas competitors.

One-hundred years later, VACC is one of Australia’s largest and most influential employer associations, with more than 5000 business-owner members.

While celebrating it’s past, VACC is also looking to the future. The association recently sold its St Kilda Road home of 60 years, VACC House, and has purchased land in North Melbourne where a new head office will be built.

“VACC’s new headquarters will be modern, fit for purpose and a statement of the chamber’s future focus,” said Gwilym.

VACC Honours Victoria’s Best Industry Operators

Victoria’s best body repair businesses were honoured at the 2018 VACC Industry Awards gala ceremony, held at Crown Palladium in Melbourne.

The 2018 awards attracted a record number of applications, each assessed by a panel of judges, whose decisions were audited by an independent standards representative. The assessment criteria included customer service, training, occupational health and safety, and environmental.

VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, said the VACC Industry Awards were initiated to recognise and promote those businesses who reach high, and attain and sustain business excellence.

“VACC acknowledges the high calibre of all applications. In the face of strong competition, Victorian motorists can be assured that any business winning a VACC Industry Award this year is a genuinely great business. VACC congratulates each of them,” said Gwilym.

VACC INDUSTRY AWARDS – BODY REPAIR INDUSTRY

BEST BODY REPAIRER – PASSENGER VEHICLE (Small Business)

Essendon Panels

BEST BODY REPAIRER – PASSENGER VEHICLE (Large Business)

TIE
Sheen Panel Service Bayswater
Sheen Panel Service Bulleen

BEST COMMERCIAL VEHICLE BODY REPAIRER

Royans Melbourne

BEST HEAVY TOWING (HTT) OPERATOR – STATEWIDE

Complete Body Craft

BEST METRO ACCIDENT (ALLOCATED) TOWING OPERATOR

MackTow

BEST REGIONAL ACCIDENT TOWING OPERATOR

Complete Body Craft

BEST TRADE TOWING OPERATOR – STATEWIDE

Complete Body Craft

BEST RESTORATION PROJECT (Body)

CAARS Smash Repairs

BEST AUTO RECYCLER (Large Business)

Total Auto Recyclers

Martin Stone Receives AM In Queens Birthday Honours

Charitable Work Recognised In Honours

Sheen Group Owner and Director, Martin Stone, has been made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia. Stone received the honour for his service to the community through support of charitable organisations, and to the automotive industry.

Stone has made a significant contribution to several charities over many years, including Variety, Life Education Australia, and the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria.

In addition to operating Sheen Group, Stone is also a long-time member of VACC and the Society of Automotive Engineers.

As well his AM, Stone is a three-time recipient of the Dick Smith Award for the highest fundraiser in Victoria (2013, 2015 and 2016), and was the second highest fundraiser for the same award in 2014.

Heartfelt congratulations from all of us at BodyShop News Australia.

VACC Names Victoria’s Best Body Repairers

Twenty-four Victorian body repair businesses have been named as finalists for the 2018 VACC Industry Awards. VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, said the awards demonstrated members’ commitment to quality.

“Short-listed from a record 276 entries, the cream has risen to the top in 2018, VACC’s centenary year. These finalists are the best in the Victorian automotive industry,” he said. “VACC was overwhelmed by the number of entries received from all over Victoria this year. Judging these entrants and narrowing down the field to the finalists was not an easy task.”

Ten expert judges evaluated entries based on customer service, professional and technical development, industry improvement, and environmental and occupational health and safety. To ensure that only the finest of VACC’s more than 5000 members would be announced as category winners, an independent standards representative audited the judging.

“VACC wishes all of the finalists the best of luck and recommends these businesses to Victorian motorists,” said Gwilym.

Category winners will be announced at a black tie gala evening, featuring master of ceremonies Mike Munro and a stellar line-up of entertainers, headed by Kate Ceberano, on Saturday 23 June at the Palladium at Crown, Melbourne.

Best Body Repairer – Passenger Vehicle (Small Business)

 Bayside Smash Repairs
 CAARS Smash Repairs
 Essendon Panels
 Showroom Finish Smash Repairs

Best Body Repairer – Passenger Vehicle (Large Business)

5 Star Panels
 Complete Body Craft
 CPK McLaren MotorBody
 Learmonth Road Smash Repairs
 LP Body Works
 Lyons Body Works
 Melville Body Works
 Morello Panels
 Northway Smash Repairs
 Paint & Custom Workshop
 Prossers Panel Beating
 Sheen Panel Service
 Sheen Panel Service Bayswater
 Sheen Panel Service Bulleen
 Sheen Panel Service Hoppers Crossing
 Specialised Collision Repair Centre
 Stylefinish Auto Body
 Super Tek Collision Repairs

Best Commercial Vehicle Body Repairer

 Complete Truck Bodies
 Royans Melbourne