5th December, 2018 · CEO Message

CEO Message No. 39

2 minutes to read

” I spent all morning taking out a comma, and all afternoon putting it back…”

This famous quote about the tribulations of a punctilious mind is generally attributed to the fabulously talented Irishman Oscar Wilde. The truth is, Wilde was being facetious. He was poking fun at a pedantic colleague who irritated him endlessly – and we’ve all had that happen.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) – poet, novelist, playwright

When I came across Oscar’s quote in a book in my study recently I was struck by how this might well explain the disappointing rate of progress on some of the important matters we have before our legislators and their bureaucratic draftspeople.

As you know, our key advocacy objective is to deliver an Automotive Code that addresses the key areas of concern we have under the existing ineffective Franchising Code of Conduct.

We’ve made good progress, obtaining wide automotive industry and business stakeholder support for the need for a code, as well as a policy commitment from the Federal Opposition. However, we are yet to see anything from the government, or any drafting by the bureaucracy. And while we do understand that the findings of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the operation of the Franchising Code are relevant, we’d still like to see more commitment to timely action.

Likewise, while the Road Vehicle Standards Bill has passed the Senate in the final sitting session of 2018, it has been over two years in the drafting, and the regulations are yet to be finalised Рthe Oscar syndrome at work again perhaps?

To be fair, I am, like Oscar, being a little facetious. Parliamentary drafting is an arduous business – but then, so is running a modern new car franchise with well-documented external forces such as margin compression, regulatory intervention and digital disruption compounding the complexity.

The instability of the government side of course is also not helpful. Oscar once remarked that “…All modes of government are failures…”. Observing Canberra in recent times we might perhaps be inclined to his view. As business people, we crave certainty and stability as do our customers.