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NSW beefs up used-car, repairs framework

Win-win: Motor Traders’ Association of NSW says both consumers and businesses will win from newly shaped provisions for settling disputes between used-car dealers, repairers and consumers.

Used-car, repairs bad guys face stiffer penalties under revised NSW guidelines

26 May 2014

NEW regulations covering NSW car dealers and the rights of consumers will double the penalty for odometer fraud and give inspectors stronger powers to enter premises.

And NSW Fair Trading inspectors will be able to issue rectification orders without consumers having to take legal action.

The new arrangements are contained in the Motor Dealers and Repairers Act 2013, which was passed by the NSW parliament late last year but is expected to come into force in a few months’ time.

The NSW government is calling for submissions on the regulations through which the new laws will operate. Submissions via the NSW Fair Trading website close on June 6.

Motor Traders’ Association of NSW chief executive Greg Patten, whose organisation represents the state’s motor dealers and repairers, has endorsed the new laws.

“The legislation is mutually beneficial to both consumers and business,” he said when the laws were passed. “This is truly a win-win for everybody.”

The laws offer improved protection to consumers in several areas.

Anyone found guilty of tampering with a vehicle’s odometer will face a doubled fine of $22,000.

Crucially, the new laws will make it easier for consumers to obtain recompense or a remedy whenever there is a dispute with a motor dealer or repairer.

The act gives inspectors from NSW Fair Trading clearer power of entry to repair shops so that they can more easily see what is happening and, if necessary, gather evidence.

“This (act) also clarifies powers of entry and inspection for Fair Trading officers to ensure the legislation can be effectively enforced,” Mr Patten said.

Inspectors will also be given the power to order a licenced dealer or repairer to rectify faults.

This will save the consumer from having to take legal action, which can be costly.

Car dealers will have to divulge more relevant information about used vehicles so that consumers will be better able to make a judgement about a vehicle’s value.

The Motor Dealers Compensation Fund, administered by NSW Fair Trading, will be merged with the Repairers Fund and the amounts available to consumers as compensation or available under a claim of poor work will rise from $30,000 to $40,000.

In addition, the limit for a used-vehicle dispute before the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal will also rise from $30,000 to $40,000.

The new regulations will also make it easier for licenced dealers and repairers by reducing red tape.

At present there are 22 different licence categories covering operators in the motor trades. This will be reduced to just three different licences: motor dealer, motor vehicle recycler and motor vehicle repairer.

Operators will be able to choose between a one- and a three-year licence.

Spare parts outlets and similar operations will not need a licence to fit basic accessories such as windscreen wipers and roof racks.

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