15th August, 2016 ยท CEO Message

CEO Message No.9

3 minutes to read

“In the end, rational policy is always good.” Paul Keating – former Australian Prime Minister and Treasurer.

As simple as that sounds, it takes absolute clarity of thought, purposeful resolve and powerful convincing arguments to secure rational policy outcomes in government – not just in Australia, but anywhere in the world.

Aside from the difficulty of having rational policy passed into law a further central issue with Mr. Keating’s proposition is the definition of ‘good’. What is ‘good rational policy’ for you may not be so for me – and we are seeing that play out right now in key policy propositions that are on the table in Canberra and being considered by legislators and regulators

Good outcomes from rational policy can be compromised by unintended consequences not adequately considered at the time the policy is announced. The Coalition’s proposal to modify the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (the MVSA Act) to allow limited private imports is a case in point.

This policy proposal is linked to a review of Competition Policy conducted by Professor Ian Harper. Professor Harper is an eminent respected economist who believes that allowing parallel, used and private imports would offer Australian consumers a wider and more affordable choice in motor vehicles.

Emeritus Prof. Ian HarperEmeritus Professor Ian Harper – Partner, Deloitte Access Economics

Of course opening this channel creates a number of unintended consequences not adequately considered in the Harper and the MVSA Act Reviews.

We have listed many of these in the past but they include a significant risk of consumer harm with inappropriate and/or unsafe vehicles entering the country, and a risk to employment if dealerships close and jobs disappear. The MVSA proposals represent a classic example of ‘rational’ policy that has a perceived ‘good’ consumer objective but that in fact will result in impacts not assessed or considered carefully by the academics that drive policy inside the bureaucracy and the Parliament. It also opens the door for freeloaders and rent seekers who have not made any investment in facilities, specialised diagnostic equipment and training of staff.

As the new Ministry gets to grips with business we are heading back to Canberra this week to talk about our important policy concerns with parliamentarians and administrators. We will of course keep the dialogue going on personal imports.

Dealers can also help.

I was greatly heartened recently to receive a note from the Chairman of a large family owned automotive group. He has written to his employees – all 400 of them – asking that they contact their MPs and explain the unintended consequences of the government proposals on private imports. In his letter he explodes the myths of the Harper ‘rational policy’ and highlights the harm that will flow to consumers and the risks to employment and business in our industry.

It is impossible to over-state the power of 400 employee letters flowing into the in-trays of our representatives in Canberra. Imagine if every dealer in Australia did what this leader has done? What if the MPs received not 400 letters but 4000 or 40 thousand?

I strongly encourage you all to take up the battle and enlist the help of the ‘army’ of employees we have out there in your businesses. If you would like more details on the form and content of this employee communication, please call.

As ever, I wish you…

Good luck and good selling!


David Blackhall

Chief Executive Officer