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Government fleet policy hurts: AAAA

Australian way: East Coast Bullbars, part of the AMA Group, not only makes products on home soil, but sources much of its raw materials locally.

Industry body says government tender process shuts out local accessory manufacturers

9 Jul 2020

BUYING vehicles with Australian-made options and accessories could put millions of dollars back into local businesses if government tender processes were changed, according to the aftermarket sector’s peak representative body.


In a plea to government departments and authorities, the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) said the policy on purchasing and leasing government fleet vehicles should split vehicles and vehicle options and accessories.


AAAA CEO Stuart Charity said all vehicles purchased or leased by government departments and authorities are imported and that some government entities are ordering vehicles with pre-installed accessories and upgrades.


“This means that optional extras such as roof racks, bullbars, ute canopies and trays and towbars are imported products,” he said.


“This is despite Australian product equivalents that are both cost competitive and generally superior to imported accessories.


“We would like to see government policy stating that options added to the vehicle should be purchased from Australian producers, where these exist.”


The AAAA has taken its concerns to federal minister for industry, science and technology Karen Andrews, and with every state premier.


It is seeking a policy that gets government and government authorities to support buying Australian-made components.


Mr Charity said it was difficult to put an exact dollar figure on vehicles coming into the country already optioned up.


“You could imagine a Toyota HiLux coming into the country and having a canopy, towbar and roof racks added in Thailand,” he said.


“That’s thousands of accessories that could have been added in Australia using Australian-designed products.


“Add that up with the thousands of cars purchased or leased by federal and state governments and it runs into the millions of dollars.


“We are world-class producers of automotive aftermarket products, highly respected around the world, but the current government practices are shutting us out.”


Mr Charity said the only state government currently helping the cause is South Australia, which has adopted an Industry Participation Policy.


“This resulted in fleet vehicles being purchased without any accessories fitted,” Mr Charity said.


“As a result, our towbar producers, barrier protection and sidestep manufacturers in South Australia are fitting out hundreds of SA fleet vehicles.”


Mr Charity said the federal government is now changing its COMCAR fleet, replacing its 142 Holden Caprices with the Toyota Camry Hybrid and BMW 6 Series GT sedan.


“We have worked with and spoken to many government fleet managers and, in our experience, the majority are ordering vehicles with, for example, the towbars already fitted before the vehicles are delivered,” he said.


“This practice continues because it is easier to order accessories to be added at the same time and because many are under the false impression that they must use ‘genuine accessories’ or they will void the warranty. This is not the case.


“The ACCC has confirmed that the warranty is not affected if parts and accessories are fit for purpose and fitted by suitably qualified staff.


“There is no requirement under Australian Consumer Law to fit car company branded parts.”

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