Better deal for mechanics, lower costs for car owners: Labor

Car owners and their local mechanics will be the winners under Labor’s plan to make car manufacturers share their technical information so vehicles can be serviced by any mechanic.

Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, said a Labor government would stop unfair practices by vehicle manufacturers which prevent independent repairers from accessing data and diagnostic tools to service cars, which keeps prices artificially high for consumers, and locks small operators out of the repair market.

“We are sticking up for small businesses, local tradies and giving car owners the ability to choose their local mechanic when going for servicing and repairs,” Ms Templeman said.

“Right now, car owners are paying higher prices and independent car repairers are being frozen out of the market by unfair rules that allow vehicle manufacturers to keep their service and repair information a secret.”

Ms Templeman said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has found that vehicle manufacturers who sell into the Australian market deliberately limit access to service and repair information for independent repairers.

“Access to technical information, such as fault codes and electronic data, held by car manufacturers is becoming increasingly important for servicing and repairing cars,” Ms Templeman said. “Real time access to digital files and codes – which vary from car to car – is needed to complete many aspects of a repair or service.

“According to the ACCC, what happens now where the big car manufacturers keep their information secret, it has created an artificial monopoly.

“And that leads to two things: one is inflated prices of services and repairs at the dealer service centres and the other is small businesses being disadvantaged.”

Andrew Hurst of Active Automotive at Blaxland said their customers “want to support local businesses”.

“They don’t like feeling forced to go to the big dealerships,” he said.

“Some manufacturers do share data, but others don’t and that’s not fair to the customer who should have the right to choose where they go to service their car.”

But Assisant Minister to the Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, said the Labor Party was merely following the lead of the Coalition on the issue.

“The ACCC’s New car retailing industry market study fulfils the government’s election commitment to undertake an independent review into the sector,” he said.

“The Australian Government is absolutely committed to the principles of competition; the independent automotive repair industry is an essential competitive force which keeps a check on prices.

“At the Autocare 2018 convention earlier this month, I was proud to announce that the government is consulting with industry and stakeholders in considering the design of a mandatory scheme and how it might operate here. It’s fantastic to see the Labor party following in the footsteps of the government and supporting our changes to ensure consumers and independent repairers get a fair go when it comes to the servicing of motor vehicles.”