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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2752 ..


Debate resumed from 26 October 1995, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR CONNOLLY (4.09): The Opposition is broadly supportive of this piece of legislation, which is not surprising because it is basically the legislation that was presented by the Labor Government as a final exposure draft in December last year. As Mr Humphries said when introducing the Bill, this process goes back to 1993 when the Consumer Affairs Bureau commenced a very extensive process of consultation on modernisation of the Sale of Motor Vehicles Act. It has been a very comprehensive consultation process. We talk a lot in this place about open and consultative government. This process has operated over two governments. For the bulk of the period we were in government. There has been very extensive consultation. It is a tribute to those officers of the ACT Government Service, particularly the team under Tony Charge in the Consumer Affairs Bureau, that, on most issues, they were able to build a broad consensus between the motor trade and the consumer movement on bringing the Act up to date.

I will not go through the Bill in detail; but the broad reforms that are contained here are very sensible, in that they get away from an arbitrary dollar limit at which a warranty cuts in. This was fairly meaningless. A $3,000 limit at which a warranty applied meant that there were an awful lot of motor vehicles on sale for $2,995 or $2,999, in order to scrape in under the warranty limit; and that there was hardly anything available for between $3,000 and $3,500, because once the warranty limit came in there would be a bit of a price escalation by dealers to ensure that they built in the warranty costs. That $3,000 limit was fairly meaningless.

The approach that is being adopted now is far more sensible. It was one that we were happy with in government and are happy with in opposition. The warranty locks in on a car that is less than 10 years old and has done fewer than 160,000 kilometres. If you are buying a relatively modern vehicle with relatively low kilometres, there is a requirement for a warranty. If you are buying an older vehicle with higher kilometres, there is no statutory warranty. At that point people will be expected to make their own decision about buying the vehicle. It is far more meaningful than an arbitrary dollar limit.

I was pleased that the Liberal Government had done so little to water down a positive piece of consumer affairs protection. That is a bit of praise for you, Mr Humphries. I am surprised that the only point at which the Liberal Government has gone backwards from the Labor Government's position on this is the issue of the deemed dealer. In all other areas the strong and sensible consumer protection focus of the legislation that we introduced in December last year has been retained. I pay tribute to the Government for that.

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