AAAA PUTS SENATE SPOTLIGHT ON MANDATORY DATA SHARING

In this article, ARCA’s Mike Smith takes a look at the recent Holden Senate Inquiry and how the AAAA used this opportunity to promote the importance of mandatory data sharing

As you may have heard, the Senate recently launched an official Inquiry into Holden and its withdrawal from the Australia market.
This Inquiry may have been largely prompted by questions about what happens to consumers and their ability to service their Holden vehicles following the vehicle manufacturer’s withdrawal, but it also provided the AAAA with an important opportunity to raise the issue of mandatory data sharing.
Ironically, Holden is the only vehicle manufacturer that has been truly sharing service and repair information with independent repairers under the voluntary data sharing scheme.
So of course while everyone at ARCA and the AAAA are sympathetic about what has happened to the authorised Holden dealers and how they have been treated in terms of their ongoing commercial viability, we know that Holden’s withdrawal will not ultimately stop Holden owners (I too drive a VF Commodore) from having their cars serviced or repaired, as independent repairers have access to the required data to undertake this work for them.
What Holden’s withdrawal has highlighted is the risks to consumers that exist if other vehicle manufacturers, who are not participating in data sharing and will continue to refuse to do so until a mandatory data sharing law is in place, decide to withdraw from the market. These consumers will be left high and dry, with independent repairers severely hobbled from providing service and repairs to them without access to the requisite information.
It was with this key message that AAAA’s Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity, and AAAA Director of Government Relations, Lesley Yates, attended the Senate Inquiry lead by Senator Pratt and Senator O’Neill, and I am pleased to report that they were very successful in putting mandatory data sharing law in the spotlight at this hearing.
Not only was their message well received on the day of their appearance, it was followed up with a formal Senate Motion which states that they want to see mandatory data sharing law in place before the end of this year – undoubtably another positive step forward in our fight for the right to data for independent workshops throughout Australia.
The AAAA’s appearance also ensured the correct information about how OEMs are sharing their data was put forward, given it is in the interest of others to give the impression that vehicle manufacturers as a whole are sharing their data when we all know this not to be the case.
It may be hard at times to keep the issue of mandatory data sharing out there, but workshops should be assured that ARCA and the AAAA remain totally focused on this campaign and our action in the Senate recently is just one example of the continuous work that is going on to make sure the law becomes a reality, and soon.

In our participation in the Senate Inquiry and in our fight for mandatory data sharing law in general, we have been very grateful for the support of Senator Pratt and Senator O’Neill.
Both Senator Pratt and Senator O’Neill have been very encouraging of our efforts and when I asked them to comment on these issues following AAAA’s participation in their Inquiry, they were emphatic in their statements of support.
“It is unsurprising that mandatory data sharing became a prominent issue during the inquiry proceedings so far, given the Government has yet to act on a promise to introduce a mandatory data sharing code,” Senator Pratt said.
“As highlighted in the AAAA’s submission to the inquiry, the ACCC reported in 2017 that competitive aftermarkets for repairs and servicing are in the best interest of Australian vehicle owners.
“Consumers should have the ability to choose their local independent repairer and those independent repairers should be able to compete on an even playing field.”
Senator O’Neill in particular was passionate about her calls for change.
“Labor went to the last election with a mandatory data sharing code. This Government has not done a thing in relation to data sharing. This is the same Government who chose multinational car manufacturers over Holden dealers across Australia and they are taking the same approach with data sharing for independent mechanics,” Senator O’Neill said.
“I met with Mindy and Jon who run an Ultra Tune in Wagga Wagga who are struggling with accessing data from large overseas car manufacturers. Their local member is the Deputy Prime Minister and I am pretty confident that he would have no idea the struggles they are going through.
“This Government is all talk. The National party claim to stand up for regional Australians but they can’t even help out to acknowledge the role that small business such as independent mechanics have to play across regional Australia.
“I call on Michael McCormack to actually stop chasing the headlines. It’s time for the Nationals leader to listen to small businesses across Australia. Start with the mechanics in your own backyard, Mr McCormack.”
We have also been pleased to have the support of Federal Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, who recently stated in a return letter to Stuart that mandatory data sharing law is more important than ever (for more on this, please see full story here).
I hope this update can assure you that we continue to fight for your right to access data from all vehicle manufacturers.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at msmith@aaaa.com.au