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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2755 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

As Mr Humphries has already indicated to the Assembly, these amendments will streamline the licensing process and introduce similar warranty provisions to those currently existing in New South Wales. Currently, the Territory has different warranty provisions to those in that State. They are considerably more onerous. Vehicles which are more than 10 years old and have travelled more than 160,000 kilometres are covered by warranty under the present system. This has the effect of raising the price of older vehicles as dealers' overheads are considerably higher.

These measures will be of great benefit to the industry, without consumers suffering any reduction in protection. On the contrary, the amendments will strengthen consumer rights by the introduction of a three-day cooling-off period, which was mentioned by our colleague in the Opposition Mr Connolly, for the purchase of new and used motor vehicles. These provisions have been in operation in Victoria for a number of years and have worked well for both consumers and traders. I note that the cooling-off period provides to the purchaser of a vehicle the right to terminate an agreement within the three-day period, upon payment of $100 or one per cent of the purchase price, whichever is the greater. However, the consumer can waive his or her statutory right to the three-day cooling-off period and choose to purchase the vehicle immediately after signing a waiver as prescribed in this Bill. This is very fair.

The amendment of the Sale of Motor Vehicles Act 1977 is well overdue, there having been no significant additions to this Act since its commencement. These amendments will modernise the Act by introducing a package of measures that reflect modern commercial practices and current consumer protection principles. It is good news for the consumer and the industry within the Territory. I commend the Bill.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for Consumer Affairs (4.23), in reply: I thank members for their general support of this legislation. It is quite extensive legislation and does constitute a fairly significant development in terms of protecting consumers in this very sensitive market. I saw a recent rating of different professions.

Mr Moore: How did apothecaries go?

MR HUMPHRIES: Apothecaries did extremely well; they were almost top of the list. Used car salesmen were very near to the bottom, just slightly ahead of politicians. There is a need for us to be very sensitive about the problems in this area and, in particular, to ensure that people who are making a fairly major commitment by the purchase of a car are properly protected by the most appropriate level of protection that we can devise. Therefore, I support the package. I am very pleased that members of the Assembly have similarly supported the package.

I reinforce the point that Mr Hird made about the joint working party, which will overcome teething difficulties with this new package. There is obviously concern about particular elements of the legislation by members of the industry. Members will know because MTA members have written to them and indicated their concern about the idea of one per cent or $100, whichever is the greater, being retained by the dealer when a person decides not to proceed with a particular sale during the three-day cooling-off period.

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