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Tuesday, 2 October 1984
Page: 1051

(Question No. 691)

Senator Peter Rae asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 7 March 1984:

(1) Is the Minister for Industry and Commerce aware of the article in the Australian Agricultural Report, Volume 1, No. 3 in relation to self-regulation of imported tractors

(2) What action has the Government taken to investigate this issue; if not, why not.

Senator Button —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

I am aware that from time to time suggestions have been made about regulation of the Australian market in regard to service and spare parts.

There are more than 40 brands of tractors and in excess of 300 models (mainly from overseas) competing on the Australian market which is of the order of 13 000 units per year.

Such a competitive market should by its nature ensure a certain level of performance by the dealer organisation if continuity of sales is to be secured.

It is in the farmers' own interests for them to thoroughly investigate a dealer 's ability to provide the required services and to seek information about recent performance in this regard.

However, I would not argue against action by the industry to eliminate or reduce the potential problem for future purchasers of tractors.

If after appropriate examination of the facts the industry concludes some measure of self regulation is desirable, codes of conduct could be developed by the industry (including Australian manufacturers) and representatives of the farmers.

Of course, codes of ethics, etc, should not substantially lessen competition in a market or otherwise contravene the Trade Practices Act, unless the Trade Practices Commission is satisfied these are countervailing public benefits.

Consumer protection is primarily a matter for the States and the parties involved should use avenues provided by the States in the first instance if they wish to proceed further.