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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2063 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

In 1993 the ACT Consumer Affairs Bureau commenced a much needed review of the Act as part of its ongoing consumer law development program. A joint industry-government-consumer working party was established to assist the bureau in the review process. The working party consisted of members of the ACT Motor Trades Association, the ACT branch of the NRMA, the Motor Squad of the Australian Federal Police and officers of the Consumer Affairs Bureau. As a result of the review a substantial number of provisions were identified that required urgent change to reflect modern trends in consumer protection and current commercial practices. A discussion paper reporting on the working party's findings and setting out suggested amendments to the Act has been the subject of almost two years' community consultation. The bureau received substantial community and industry comment on the suggested amendments which has been taken into account in the preparation of this Bill.

Mr Speaker, this Bill features a package of measures which will introduce new categories of essential licences, streamline the administration of the licensing scheme, provide improved consumer protection and update the enforcement provisions. The new licensing requirements that I have just referred to will require car market operators, that is, people who provide a site for the sale of private vehicles, and wholesalers, that is, people who sell vehicles to the retail trade, to be licensed. These flourishing activities which are a recent development in the local industry are not regulated and are therefore not subject to the same requirements imposed on licensed dealers. There is a pressing need to regulate these activities to ensure that consumers enjoy the same level of protection already provided by licensed dealers. Both consumers and industry strongly support this approach.

Mr Speaker, the Bill remedies the current inconsistencies between the warranty provisions that operate in the Territory and those that operate in New South Wales. The Territory has adopted the same warranty provisions as currently apply in New South Wales. The system does not require a dealer to warrant a used motor vehicle which is more than 10 years old and which has travelled more than 160,000 kilometres at the time of the sale. Increased protection of consumers will be provided by the introduction of a three-day cooling-off period for the purchase of new and used vehicles. This initiative is long overdue and has received wide community support. The cooling-off period will allow a consumer to terminate an agreement to purchase a motor vehicle. If a consumer exercises this right, they will receive any deposit less $100 or one per cent of the purchase price, whichever is the greater. Consumers will have a right, however, to waive the three-day cooling-off period and take immediate possession of the vehicle by signing a prescribed document.

Mr Speaker, as I have already stated, there has been no substantial review of this Act since its inception in 1977. Accordingly, the penalties in the Act no longer afford a sufficient deterrent against contravention of the law and are inconsistent with modern ACT consumer laws. Therefore, the penalties have been increased to reflect 1995 monetary values. I also point out, Mr Speaker, that provisions in the legislation dealing with a person being of good fame and character and otherwise being a fit and proper person to hold such a licence have been codified for the first time so that what is required of a person to bring them within the terms of the legislation is clear in the legislation.

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