I apologise to Rocket Rod Sims and his Justice League team at the ACCC. They are not responsible for recalling cars that spontaneously combust, cars that stop in the middle of the freeway putting you, your partner, the kiddies and Fido at risk of death or worse, or cars that have such severe problems that the dealers and manufacturers lie to customers about them and in some cases blame the owners for bad driving techniques.
I apologise to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, who I didn’t mention, but are also not responsible for car recalls despite having eight ministers (one of whom is not male) responsible for overseeing the show that is helmed by former police prosecutor Simon Atkinson.
You see, no one in the whole Australian government or among the 264,389 federal public servants employed by the Team Australia commonwealth, are responsible for getting dud cars off the road and getting their owners compensated for being done over.
No, in 2016 recalling was outsourced to the private sector.
Who in the private sector? Motoring organisations? The Institute of Automotive Mechanical Engineers? RMIT University? Michael McMichael Motors? Jim Barry Wines (now putting out a fine range of unisex undies)? Coopers Brewery? No.
As this paper’s Terry McCrann would write: IT’S THE MOTOR VEHICLE SUPPLIERS WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR UNDERTAKING RECALLS! So, you can imagine why 93,572 owners of Hyundai Tucsons can’t park their SUVs in their garage or near their homes because they catch fire and burn them down (houses and cars) while they wait for Hyundai to fix them. Or why Tony and Sue Waters had to have their Range Rover towed back to Concord Land Rover 10 times before it finally burnt to the ground after a three-week service.
Or why long time Jag owner Chris Haigh was told by Concord Jaguar that, after multiple attempts at fixing the driveline vibration problem in his 3.0L Diesel F-Pace, that Jaguar Land Rover Australia would no longer fund rectification attempts on the basis that “all these model F-Paces had the same problem” and “it was operating according to design specifications”.
Or why Pat Evans’ Range Rover dropped the steering wheel in his lap and refused to move.
Or why his daughter-in-law bought a new Discovery, found a new sound louder than her four girls and one boy, discovered (no pun etc) the cause: the transmission is shot, can’t be repaired, but can be replaced for $24K.
You see the DOI (Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications) consulted with motor car suppliers like JLRA, Hyundai and Mazda and made a deal with The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the peak representative organisation for companies who distribute new cars, where its members can voluntarily recall their cars if they think the cars are not safe or have killed too many Australians.
But don’t think the suppliers get off scot-free under this deal. No. The suppliers have to notify any voluntary recalls they may make to the minister. (Well, that’s scary. Imagine having to send a letter like: “Dear Minister, we have voluntarily recalled 2.35 Ferrari Breadvans because they look crook. Please don’t think badly of us. Yours in donations, Mystery Car Supplier.”) Under a memo of understanding signed in 2016, the ACCC’s job is simply to publish the voluntary recalls on a product safety website.
Under this very friendly deal, DOI is responsible for negotiating motor vehicle safety recalls, including being the principal point of contact with suppliers who are voluntarily recalling motor vehicles and they take the lead role in monitoring recall progress and engaging with suppliers on improving their recall strategies. Like “Dear Hyundai, five or six people have had their cars burn down the house over the last few months, can you move a bit quicker with the other 93,567 who are patiently waiting to see if their Tucson is next to spring a blaze. Yours in support of donations, signed one of the eight ministers but unlikely the one of us who is not male.”
According to the product safety system, “when suppliers become aware of defective or unsafe products, they can conduct a voluntary recall to remove the product from the marketplace. Under the Australian Consumer Law, a responsible minister can also order a compulsory recall, if required.”
And guess who the responsible minister is? Well, it’s none other than the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Mick McCormack. Mick is a fav of ours here. He was a journo, then editor of Wagga Wagga’s premier newspaper (Australasia’s youngest ever editor although I think our big boss ran a whole newspaper publishing business aged 22), The Daily Advertiser, then went to the dark side as a publisher just before Wagga’s very own multimedia, digital and online platform was taken over by our major competitor, Fairfax aka Nine.
As a country person and author of that academic history of the motor trade in his electorate: Wild Colonial Boys: Bushrangers in the Riverina, 1996, Mick would be well aware of the importance of reliable automobiles to men, women and others on the land. So, it’s hard to understand why he hasn’t been ordering more compulsory recalls.
It’s even harder to understand why (unless you understand who has the power in politics) the ACCC isn’t responsible for holding the motor industry to account. It’s only when suppliers are not responding to requests from DOI to improve their recall strategies would DOI ask the ACCC to help.
Please understand “improve their recall strategies” doesn’t mean telling car suppliers to recall cars that have the potential to kill or injure people.
Lots of hot news that will have to wait to next week including our own Molly Taylor winning the first ever Extreme E race held in Saudi Arabia, our own Ryan Gilroy and Brianna Wilson winning their class in the Bathurst Six Hour and a preview of F1 Italy and my eldest daughter Sophie’s wedding.