22nd July, 2016 · CEO Message

CEO Message No. 7

3 minutes to read

The French have a saying – “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” which is generally translated into English as “…the more things change, the more they stay the same…”

I was forced to reflect on the wisdom of this French aphorism as I sifted through the the Cabinet and the outer Ministry appointments detailed in the announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office. While the PM has made some important changes, the fact is the issues themselves are unchanged, as is the bureaucratic machinery of government.

Our highest priority continues to be the ASIC review of flex-commissions and origination fees. Our new submission in response to ASIC’s second consultation paper is in the last stages of finalisation. Our response is comprehensive, well crafted and includes extensive modelling of the impact of ASIC’s various proposals on our businesses. This issue will move forward irrespective of changes in the Ministry. We anticipate further meetings with ASIC next month.

Similarly, the re-opening of the Access to Service and Repair Agreement for Motor Vehicles announced by the Hon Kelley O’Dwyer MP is most likely to continue unchanged, notwithstanding the Minister’s changed portfolio description. The ACCC and ACL reviews likewise are not impacted by the changes in Canberra, as far as we can ascertain at this time.

There is some encouraging news however in connection with the parallel import issue.

While the allocation of responsibilities across the new Ministry is still being worked on we are encouraged by the appointment of the Hon Darren Chester MP as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Minister Chester is the prominent National Party member for Gippsland. Prior to the election we received encouraging signals that substantial numbers of National Party MPs are opposed to the personal import plan.

While the Hon Paul Fletcher MP previously had responsibility for the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 his re-assignment as Minister for Urban Infrastructure could mean Minister Chester takes over the parallel import issue directly. These ministerial changes may therefore work in our favour on this important issue.

We will have an opportunity to canvas our issues directly with Minister Chester at a meeting scheduled for July 29. The Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Leader Fiona Scott will also attend this meeting.

Further reinforcing our position in the parallel import issue is an article in today’s Australian by Sarah Martin who interviewed myself and FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber. This article is recommended reading and can be accessed here.

Earlier this week we attended an important meeting of the Australian Motor Dealer Council under the chairmanship of Doug Dickson. The leaders of the various National Dealer Councils received detailed briefings on our current issues and action plans and received information for dissemination back to the appropriate brand councils. Please check in with your council chairperson for an update. The partnership between AADA and the AMDC is growing in maturity and strength and is a positive force in making our advocacy more effective and focussed on the issues that count for dealers.

Finally, I want to mention the great progress we’re making on updating and purifying our member database – for the very first time. Please take the call on this important issue when you are contacted. The information is confidential and is never on-sold or used for marketing purposes. It’s difficult to operate an efficient and effective membership organisation without knowing exactly who the members are – so your assistance is greatly appreciated.

As the new team in Canberra gets to grips with national priorities we can expect activity to ramp up. We are ready to engage energetically and to advocate our interests strongly. We are writing to all elected members of both houses to show our willingness and determination to engage constructively in the process of policy determination.

To paraphrase Prime Minister Turnbull, it is indeed a great time to be in business in Australia but we must ensure our legislators and regulators receive accurate information and market feedback on the vital issues that impact our industry so that the wisest decisions are made.

Please do not hesitate to call me personally on any of these matters at any time. My phone is always on. As ever, I wish you…

As ever, I wish you…

Good luck and good selling!


David Blackhall

Chief Executive Officer