Automotive retail, service and repair is Australia’s largest small business sector. Retail motor traders contribute $160 billion in turnover to the nation’s economy, and the industry – consisting of over 100,000 businesses – employs over 310,000 people. Automotive businesses range from small “mum and dad”-type companies to medium sized multi-site operators, and the sector sells, services, repairs and fuels Australia’s motor vehicle fleet, which is over 17.2 million vehicles strong.
When it comes to keeping that fleet moving, that’s where the Australian Motor Industry Federation (AMIF) comes in. Launched in July 2011, and consisting of the various state and territory motor trade associations – as well as the Victorian and Tasmanian Automobile Chambers of Commerce, and the Australian Automobile Dealers Association – AMIF represents a “new chapter for the sector,” according to CEO Richard Dudley.
Dudley, who is also the Executive Director of the Motor Trades Association of Australia – an AMIF “predecessor organisation” – has a background in journalism, later getting into public affairs and corporate affairs management. Before joining the motor industry, he also worked in government relations and stakeholder relationship management.
“Primarily, our function as a Federation is to represent all state and territory motor trades associations and automobile Chambers of Commerce on national issues, primarily with the federal government and Commonwealth bureaucracies,” Dudley says.
“Our job is to work with legislators, policy makers and regulators, and in doing so protect the interests of the very varied and significant motor trades’ retail, repair and service sectors,” he continues. “While a lot of publicity is afforded automobile manufacturing, not as much is given to the industry that actually sells, maintains, repairs and services not just motor cars, but slo motor cycles trucks, farm machinery and even power equipment.”
Taken as a whole, AMIF’s members cover the full life cycle of a motor vehicle. They consist of anyone who sells a motor vehicle, all the way through to the people who dismantle and recycle a vehicle at the end of its life – not to mention everyone in between.
The companies in that membership consist of new and used car dealers, independent mechanical repairers, motor body repairers, tire retailers, parts retailers, automotive recyclers and dismantlers, farm machinery dealers – essentially, any business that has anything to do with motor vehicle retail, repair or servicing.
It’s AMIF’s job to ensure it’s memberships interests are protected when it comes to any national policy legislation or regulation that impacts the industry.
To ensure that protection, AMIF works very closely with the government. “We have significant input on issues that impact us, specifically regulations that influence how the industry is to operate,” Dudley explains. “When government is looking at introducing new taxation regimes and new regulatory regimes, we make sure they’re aware of what the positive or negative impacts of those decisions would be on our sector.”
“For example there are increasing environmental, taxation and bureaucratic red tape considerations that can impact small businesses in particular.”
AMIF’s interaction with government is limited mostly to a federal level, since it’s members are state associations who deal with state-based matters themselves. When there is potential for a state issue to have national implications, members will alert AMIF to that – and when AMIF finds that an issue of national significance may have a state impact, it reciprocates.
Recent examples of AMIF’s work in working with government was the introduction of the new Australian Consumer Law in January of this year. “There’s been considerable consultation and consideration of many issues that were raised by this organisation and its predecessor, the MTAA, ,” Dudley says.
“It is an ongoing piece of work,” he adds. “While we were successful in terms of getting industry perspectives recognised, there are some other sections of the ACL that are still causing some concern. We’ll continue to work with government and provide advice about how future amendments to the ACL could address these concerns.”
Another example occurred earlier this year, when the new national Personal Property Security Register was introduced. AMIF was heavily involved in examining how that new register would impact the Australian automotive industry. “We helped legislators understand how what they introduced could impact various parts of the automotive industry.”
“Again, what was originally proposed as distinct to what was finally produced reflected to some extent the representations made by AMIF and MTAA.” he elaborates. Similar to the consumer law, however, AMIF still sees room for improvement. “We’ll continue working on behalf of members to get some of the early issues that have been highlighted as a result of the introduction to be addressed in subsequent versions of the register.“
AMIF has also been very active in addressing environmental concerns. Australia has a heavy reliance on road transport, so therefore people who engage in the sales, servicing and repairing of motor vehicles have to be conscious of the environment. From the efficient, effective and environmentally compliant disposal of fluids and gases to what can be re-used or recycled at the end of life are key issues the industry is constantly addressing. “There’s a lot of work going on not only in the design of the latest generation of automobiles, but also in terms of their ongoing servicing, their ongoing use, and their end of their life,” Dudley says.
Moving forward, Dudley adds that AMIF will continue to be as busy. “There issues we’re pursuing at the moment,” he says, as well as proactively watching out for potential government inquiries, investigations or reforms.
“A current example is a government inquiry into accessing information in the after-market environment, “he says.
If AMIF’s work is successful, Dudley believes this will contribute to the continuing importance of the automotive industry to the national economy. Five to 10 years down the road, he hopes for the sector to be unencumbered by the burdens of excessive red tape, inefficient and inappropriately targeted taxation and to be recognised for the significant contribution it makes rather than largely being taken for granted.
For more information on the Australian Motor Industry Federation, visit their website at http://www.amif.com.au/