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David Blackhall

THE Australian Automotive Dealers Association (AADA) has also weighed into the independent-repairer debate with support for the government’s consultation paper, stating that the nation’s dealer network “needs a strong independent repairer network, because the task of repairing and maintaining the entire vehicle fleet is too big a task for our members alone”.

In a statement, AADA CEO David Blackhall said it was critical that the regulation “provides access to information on a fair, equitable basis and that sensitive information is shared in a responsible way”.

Mr Blackhall said the AADA remained particularly concerned that the three critical digital codes – security, emissions and safety settings – are “ring-fenced” in a way that protects consumers from inadvertent or malicious tampering.

“This requires that only adequately trained and certified technicians can enter the ‘ring-fence’,” he said.

“We also support the principle of using OEM parts, OEM-supplied and -compliant workshop equipment and requiring OEM or equivalent training, all provided at ‘level playing field’ pricing.

“The ACCC recommended that car manufacturers share technical information with independent repairers on commercially fair and reasonable terms, and we would expect to receive information on the same basis.”

Mr Blackhall also said that the AADA “completely agrees” with the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) that the US system referenced in the ACCC market study recommendations “was a good benchmark upon which to base an Australian solution”.

“We also unreservedly support the AAAA and Motor Trades Association of Australia position that an independent body is needed to administer the scheme,” he said.

Mr Blackhall said he reiterated on behalf of the AADA that consumers are free to take their vehicles to whoever they judge to be competent, “and many do choose independent repairers”.

“We look forward to participating in the consultation process so that an effective code of conduct is developed, that meets the demands of all repairers while safeguarding safety, environmental and security information appropriately, as per the ACCC’s recommendation.”

By Neil Dowling