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AADA pushes for broader dealer coverage

New role: Former Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson will head up the newly formed Australian Motor Dealer Council.

Peak dealer group wants new body to bring dealers and manufacturers closer together

24 Feb 2015

THE Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) has put forward former Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson as the nominal chairman of a proposed new body comprising the presidents of all the dealer councils in Australia.

Dealer councils are bodies that represent the dealers of a particular marque, so that all the franchised dealers selling the one brand can speak in unison to their franchisor/car manufacturer.

While each dealer council represents only the dealers for a particular brand, the AADA membership is open to any dealer who feels the need to make joint representation, mainly to governments.

The AADA has proposed Mr Dickson as an independent chairman for the board of the proposed Australian Motor Dealer Council, with the rest of the directors being chairmen or chairwomen of individual national dealer councils.

“The appointment of someone of Doug Dickson’s background and reputation as independent chair underscores the importance the AADA places on the AMDC,” AADA chairman Ian Field said when announcing Mr Dickson’s availability.

“With Doug’s steady hand and wealth of experience, we would expect the new council to create and shape better agendas – agendas that also take account of the OEMs’ (car-makers’) views,” Mr Field said.

The intention was to unify dealers and manufacturers, “particularly in light of the changes Australia’s automotive industry will soon face”.

“We are delighted that Doug Dickson has agreed to take up this pivotal role,” Mr Field said.

In a statement, Mr Dickson said franchised dealers needed a stronger voice to make themselves heard above the noise surrounding the closure of Australian automotive manufacturing.

“The franchised new-car industry needs a strong, combined and independent voice to be heard above the increasing clamour to wind back entitlements and protections granted while our industry had a strong manufacturing base.

“I find it encouraging that franchised new-car dealers, through a revitalised AADA, are adopting a longer term, more strategic outlook evidenced by the recent co-operation between FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which represents car-makers) and the AADA.

“I would be delighted to be part of the AMDC initiative and look forward to helping build strong and unified industry representation.”

The proposed AMDC is expected to take shape when invited chairs of dealer councils and directors of the AADA next meet in March.

Mr Field said no details about how the AMDC would operate had yet been established.

He said the March meeting would comprise an open discussion and that decisions would be made about the final structure and constitution of the proposed AMDC.

“Nothing is currently determined, as the final decisions must be made in consultation with the elected members of the brands,” he said.

The AADA envisages that the AMDC will direct any issues it cannot resolve, or policy issues it wants developed, to the AADA.

AADA acting chief executive Patrick Tessier said it was expected that the formation of the AMDC would bring the dealers closer together with the car-makers.

“We believe AADA’s future and that of the dealers are aligned with the manufacturers’.

“We have a lot more in common with the manufacturers than we have apart from them.”

Mr Tessier said bringing the national dealer councils into a formal relationship with the AADA would also give the AADA even better coverage of the dealer network.

AADA members currently control 1274 of the nation’s 2300 new-car dealership outlets.

“This will be a very important change,” he said.

“From our perspective, we want to be all-encompassing.

“We will be representing the whole of the dealer network, right from the grass roots up.”

Mr Tessier said the national dealer councils had to deal with more than just franchise issues with the car manufacturers.

“It is not all about supplier-based issues. There are many issues that face dealers on a regulatory basis, through government.”

While the AADA does act on legislative issues, Mr Tessier said the creation of an AMDC would allow the AADA to hear directly from dealers about how they wanted the association to act on those issues.

“In all areas, what’s important is for dealers to have a vehicle through which they can contribute to the debates, the argument, the discussion. At the moment, they don’t have that.”

Mr Tessier said the nine members of the AADA board represented brands that control more than 20 per cent of the market.

“That’s nine people representing a very significant chunk of the auto industry, but we want to be completely representative of the auto industry.

“The reality is this AADA wants to represent everybody. We want to have mechanisms in place so, for instance, a dealer in Western Australia can bring something up in their national dealer council and know clearly it will be taken up by the AADA if it needs to be.

“Most of the issues that face dealers today in terms of their franchises are very resolvable at dealer council level.

“AADA exists for regulatory issues, for taking an issue to government, taking issues to brand where there may be some issues to be resolved.”

Mr Tessier said the proposed AMDC would not be a subsidiary of the AADA, but it had been proposed that it would use the AADA’s secretariat.

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