CANBERRA REPORT: Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon calls for a fair go for independent mechanics

STICKING UP FOR SMALL BUSINESS: Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon with Cessnock mechanic Graeme 'Prod' Rankin from Graeme Rankin Auto Service.
STICKING UP FOR SMALL BUSINESS: Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon with Cessnock mechanic Graeme 'Prod' Rankin from Graeme Rankin Auto Service.

A recent campaign I’ve been working on locally is the call for independent mechanics to be given access to the same technical information which car manufacturers make available to their authorised dealers and preferred repairer networks.

It’s a big issue both locally and around the country. The manufacturers are developing a monopoly on car repairs. New cars are basically computers on wheels. Real-time access to digital files and codes, which vary from car to car, is needed to complete many aspects of a repair or service.

Car manufacturers generally own and control this technical information and in many cases are the only sources. For those of us living in outside the capital and big regional cities, this can mean both higher costs and a limited ability to access repairers. We want to force car manufacturers to share technical information with independent mechanics and auto electricians on commercially fair and reasonable terms, with safeguards that enable environmental, safety and security-related technical information to be shared with the independent sector. This reform will not only deliver savings to drivers but also create a level playing field for repairers. It’s a way to stick up for small businesses, Aussie tradies and keeping the cost of living down for families.

It’s your car and it should be your choice where it gets repaired. Our plan will deliver money to the household budget and give local mechanics a boost to their business.

650,000 FAMILIES ‘RIPPED OFF’ BY PAY DAY LENDERS

In the Hunter electorate a number of charitable community organisations have reported significant numbers of people under financial stress due to pay day lender loans.  Families living week to week, already struggling with high power prices and stagnated wages are being targeted by the quick fix loan companies and are falling into a deeper financial trap.

It’s time Government Ministers stop sitting on their hands and start doing something to protect 650,000 Australian families who are being ripped off by pay day lenders. The Government’s pay day lending reforms that were meant to be introduced to Parliament in the first quarter of this year appear to have been shelved indefinitely, leaving vulnerable Australians to be ripped off with no protection from the Government.

These vital financial services reforms are needed to implement reforms that would improve protections for consumers of payday loans and rent-to-buy schemes. The ease of taking out a pay day lender loan and a failure to take into account a person’s ability to pay back the loan means financially vulnerable people are being exploited and they are suffering.

The Government’s own report found examples where families are paying more than $3,000 for household goods like a clothes dryer that would normally cost just $345. That’s equivalent to an interest rate of 884 per cent which is just unacceptable.

We must put a stop to pay day lenders taking advantage of families and households through these outrageous interest rates. I encourage locals experiencing financial stress to reconsider taking out a high interest pay day lender loan and to seek out alternative options.

We are fortunate to have a number of organisations in the Hunter electorate that offer financial counselling, hardship support and options for low interest loans. Contact my office for more information on these services.

Joel Fitzgibbon is the Federal MP for Hunter

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