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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 138


Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (16:51): I'm pleased to have the opportunity to rise to speak on this motion today and to welcome, yet again, the member for Fenner's very late conversion to what has already been Turnbull government policy since well before he came to the party. I am very happy on this occasion to explain to him that his motion calls on the government, belatedly, to enact a policy which the Turnbull government announced explicitly, and first, more than eight weeks ago and which was developed by the Turnbull government based on a report which we supported into just this issue. I would suggest, however, that the member for Fenner think carefully before taking up any more of the Chamber's time in the future highlighting how slow he has been in recognising the report's implications and how little he achieved in this space during his six years as a member of the last Labor government.

Like the Turnbull government, I know how hard our independent car repairers work. My dad has been a mechanic for more than 70 years. Incredibly, after seven decades he is still working—albeit to escape mum, he says, but that's beside the point! His best customers wouldn't let him retire even if he wanted to. They know that, once you have found a great mechanic, who treats you fairly and does the job how you like it done, you never want to let them go. Whatever car you are driving at the time, you want the ability to choose the mechanic that is right for you. Not only is that ability to choose good for the individual, but it's good for everyone in that it promotes competition, encourages innovation and rewards high-quality service delivery.

Unfortunately, as technology advances and proprietary software and electronic information become an ever more important part of repairing modern cars, the scales have been dramatically tipped against independent mechanics. The information needed is generally owned and controlled by the manufacturers, allowing them to deny or delay access and make an independent repairer's job far more difficult. That's why on 16 June 2016, more than two years ago, Minister O'Dwyer communicated a commitment to industry stakeholders that the government would announce an independent review of the voluntary industry agreement on information sharing within three months of the re-election of the government. In October 2016, to avoid doubling up, we met the commitment by endorsing the ACCC's ongoing new car retailing market study as that independent review.

The ACCC's market study was released on 14 December 2017, after 18 months of investigation, 130 public submissions, site visits and a stakeholder forum. The government considered the report carefully, and—though it appears the member for Fenner was not paying attention—on 4 May 2018 the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer announced in front of an audience of hundreds at the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association Conference that the government was consulting with industry and stakeholders in considering the design of a mandatory scheme for the sharing of technical information with independent repairers. They've gone awfully quiet on the other side of the fence! It was only on 13 May that the opposition, with inexplicable fanfare, announced that they would follow the government in supporting such a mandatory scheme. As the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer told the House last week, the opposition's announcement was perplexing to the hundreds of stakeholders who'd watched the assistant minister announce the same policy weeks before.

Members opposite will understand that it is necessary for us to consult widely with industry and stakeholders to ensure that this mandatory scheme is well designed, with real industry knowledge, and achieves the best outcomes. However, I'm confident that the final measures will do the job, while ensuring that the sharing of technical information with independent repairers will be on commercially fair and reasonable terms and subject to appropriate safety and environmental safeguards.

Let me recap for the member for Fenner and his colleagues opposite so we can clear this up once and for all. Don't leave, Member for Fenner; listen. As far back as June 2016, the Turnbull government publicly recognised that this issue needed to be examined and addressed. We endorsed an independent review into the issue by the ACCC. We've had a working group working towards this mandatory scheme for some time. I look forward to Labor supporting the government's scheme.