Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 19 November 2009) . . Page.. 5279 ..
enforceable through action by the Commissioner for Fair Trading and does not provide a private right for individuals to sue for breaches of the code.
The only enforcement power available for the commissioner under the code is to seek an undertaking that a repairer will comply with the code. If the repairer does not give an undertaking, then the Office of Regulatory Services can apply to the Magistrates Court for an order that the repairer act in a way that would have been required by the undertaking. Failure to comply with such a court order has a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units.
There are also problems with the dispute resolution mechanism provided for under the code. The code establishes a dispute resolution committee, comprised of an independent chair, a representative of the industry and a consumer representative, to hear matters raised by consumers. However, due to the lack of an ability to compel principals to attend a hearing of the committee, the results of the hearings are sometimes inconclusive.
The code also does not give inspectors from the Office of Regulatory Services powers of investigation unless a suspected breach of the code is also a breach under the Fair Trading Act 1992.
While recognising that the code is subject to these inadequacies, there are a number of features which have been working well and have therefore been incorporated into the bill that I have presented today. The bill does not introduce significant policy changes—it maintains the existing obligations and responsibilities of parties in the industry and continues to offer consumer protection measures. The bill does introduce a new disciplinary scheme which ensures that breaches can be acted on efficiently and effectively.
The bill develops a business licensing model for people carrying on business as a motor vehicle repairer in the ACT. This captures people who perform motor vehicle repair work for reward. The definition of motor vehicle repair work in the bill replicates the existing definition of “repairs” in the code.
The bill provides exceptions to this general rule. The main exception ensures that individuals who perform motor vehicle repair work in the course of their employment are not regarded as carrying on the business of a repairer. Other exceptions include members of a partnership, and publishers of advertisements relating to a business carried on, or a service provided, by a repairer.
The business licensing model ensures that a person, including partnerships and corporations, is prohibited from carrying on a business of motor vehicle repair work for reward without a licence.
The bill sets up the application process that must be completed in order to obtain a licence. The licensing of motor vehicle repairers will be undertaken by the Commissioner for Fair Trading. While it will not be necessary for a person applying for a business licence to hold relevant qualifications, there will be eligibility requirements which must be satisfied by an application prior to the issuing of a licence—that the applicant is an adult, and is not a disqualified person.