Automotive aftermarket on the campaign trail meeting Federal MPs
One of Australia's best kept automotive secrets - the big collection of businesses known as the independent automotive aftermarket - is on the campaign trail telling its story to members of Federal Parliament across the nation.
The 1,700 businesses - many family owned operations - that make up the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) include manufacturers, re-manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of vehicle parts accessories, tools, equipment and services.
The news that those companies collectively turn over $11 billion a year, export $800 million worth of leading edge product and give 30,000 Australians a job is now being told directly to Members of Federal Parliament.
Executive Director Stuart Charity said that the AAAA is facilitating meetings between groups of aftermarket businesses and Federal MP’s across the nation to tell their story in person. "The motor vehicle is critical in providing mobility in Australia and therefore the automotive aftermarket is strategically important as it provides Australian car owners with competition, choice, convenience and proximity and helps keep the cost of car ownership down as well as making a strong contribution to GDP, employment and exports," he said.
To maximise information exchange, the electorate meetings feature a tour of the host AAAA member's facility, a presentation on the industry, a response by the local MP and an open discussion involving aftermarket businesses from the local electorate.
Meetings are being held in both regional and metropolitan areas. To date, meetings have been held with:
• Catherine King, Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, Ballarat electorate in northern Victoria on 30 January at Albins Off Road Gear in Delacombe, Victoria.
• Mark Dreyfus, Attorney General and Minister for Emergency Management, Isaacs Electorate in Melbourne's eastern suburbs on 15 February at Pedders Suspension in Dandenong, Victoria.
• Graham Perrett, Moreton electorate in South East Queensland on 20 February at Kmart Tyre & Auto in Sunnybank, Brisbane.
• Janelle Saffin, Page electorate in North East NSW on 21 February at Autobarn in Lismore, NSW.
Meetings are also scheduled with the Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury, in his Penrith electorate in Sydney on 27 February and the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness Craig Emerson of the Rankin electorate in South East Queensland on 6 March.
Auto aftermarket - adding value to our community
While auto aftermarket businesses make an important contribution to our community, the industry is little understood. “These meetings are part of a wider campaign we are rolling out over the coming months and years to increase the awareness and recognition of the critical role that the automotive aftermarket plays in the Australian economy," said Stuart Charity.
"The automotive industry is far, far bigger than just the car companies and as a result we believe strongly that Government policy and programs designed to support the automotive industry in Australia should not be focused on the needs of the car companies alone.
"We want Parliamentarians to be aware of the contribution auto aftermarket businesses make to their local community as well as some of the challenges our industry is facing. Today, family cars are complex computers on wheels and it takes a great deal of skill and information to keep them safely on the road.
"In 1986, the VL Commodore had only electronic fuel injection, 10 fault codes in its basic computer and a 1200 page workshop manual. In 2011, the VE Commodore incorporates a dozen sophisticated technologies, 709 fault codes and a 19,400 page workshop manual. We are only now seeing the tip of the iceberg with a raft of new technology in development which will need to be maintained for the life of the vehicle”.
"To add to the complexity, in Australia we have 62 brands and 320 models on offer for total sales of just over one million vehicles a year. In the USA they sell 17 million vehicles, but only have 32 brands, making our car parc one of the most diverse in the world for its size”.
"Our members want a 'seat at the table' when issues impacting their livelihoods are debated, whether it is new licensing arrangements, vehicle and product standards, or business and export development support programs," said Stuart Charity.
He said key issues that impact AAAA members and their customers include the need:
• To ensure that independent aftermarket businesses have equitable and practical access to the vehicle manufacturer controlled technical and diagnostic information required to repair and maintain today's technologically advanced vehicles.
• For public education about consumers' choices in relation to parts and servicing without impacting vehicle warranties.
• For a campaign to highlight the importance of regularly servicing modern vehicles to keep them safe and to reduce emissions. For example unlike many overseas countries, in Australian there are no requirements for testing the emission compliance of vehicles.
In 2009, the AAAA launched a national Choice of Repairer campaign to protect choice and competition in the vehicle, repair, service and replacements parts sector by eliminating technical and legal barriers to Australian consumers' right to have their vehicles serviced or repaired at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice.
"Of the 26,000 premises that provide vehicle maintenance, repair and service in Australia, only about 2,300 are vehicle dealerships. The independent automotive aftermarket is a significant national asset built largely by family businesses over the past 100 years.
"These service and repair businesses, and the Australian companies that manufacture and supply parts and accessories to them, play a major role in keeping the nation's 16 million vehicles on the road. In regional areas where dealerships are few and far between, the independent outlets are a critical part of the local infrastructure.
"The community relies on these aftermarket businesses to keep it mobile. Our campaign to engage with local MPs' will bring the industry and its customers' needs into sharper focus during this election year," said Stuart Charity.