On Friday 26 October the Consumer Affairs Forum (CAF) made up of the Federal Assistant Treasurer and each of the State and Territory Fair Trading Ministers met in Tasmania to discuss, among other things, the proposed changes to the Australian Consumer Law Review (the Review).

The Review proposed to remove the current exemption to some of the consumer guarantees for goods sold by auction. These changes would effectively abolish the ‘as is, where is’ rule being the fundamental pillar of how auctions function.

 

We are pleased to advise that the Consumer Affairs Forum decided the Australian Consumer Law would remain the Status Quo, voting not to remove the exemptions for auction in relation to certain consumer guarantees.

Key points

  • These changes would have had a significant detrimental impact on the industry, your businesses and Australian consumers in general;
  • Campaigning against the changes was spearheaded by the AVAA and AVAA members who met with Federal and State Ministers around the country over a lengthy period;
  • The AVAA retained a Government Relations firm chaired by Peter Costello to assist our campaign with invaluable financial contributions received from some AVAA members that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible;
  • The threat to the exemptions remains however with the CAF noting that New Zealand was currently undertaking a review of the changes implemented there and requesting a report back at a future meeting, opening the possibility this change will be proposed yet again in future;
  • The AVAA has a bright future with more planned to achieve our strategic vision to strengthen our industry and benefit you.
  • Joint Communique can be found by clicking here:

The impact these changes would have meant for the industry were significant.  The decision today to keep the status quo is a notable win for our industry and the AVAA.  The opportunity to meet with State Ministers and Federal Government to voice our concerns was due to the fact that we are the peak industry body for auctioneers and valuers in Australia and we presented a united voice.

It is important to note however that the CAF has left open the door for this issue to be revisited in the near future as New Zealand will be undertaking a review of the consumer law forums that took effect between 2013 and 2015, including changes made to the consumer protections applying to auction. It was suggested that there would be benefits in further considering this matter in light of the outcomes of the New Zealand review. Ministers requested CAANZ to report back following completion of the New Zealand review.

The request to report back on the New Zealand review means that this issue does remain on the table and is subject to further review. The AVAA will continue to monitor that situation, and where necessary we will continue to advocate against any changes on behalf of our members. We will also monitor the New Zealand market to ensure we have all the necessary information for any future discussions. We will share any learning with our members.

This highlights the need for the AVAA to continue to grow and represent our members to ensure we are well placed for the New Zealand review, and any other reviews that affects both our immediate and wider industry.

Since initially drafting and making formal submissions to the proposed changes in April, the AVAA has invested significant time and funds into travelling to and meeting with each of the State Ministers, and the Federal Government to advocate the detrimental impact of the proposed changes to our industry and to your business. The AVAA also retained the services of ECG Advisory, a government relations firm chaired by Peter Costello, over a 6 month period to assist and guide us in our efforts.

The campaign against these changes was spearheaded by the AVAA and supported by a number of AVAA members from each state who attended those meetings including MGS in SA, Gregsons in WA, Pickles, Manheim, Graysonline and Slattery Auctions. We thank those members for their support for this initiative and we thank all the members who have provided their feedback and made formal submissions along the way. Due to the industry working together with clear messages and direction we were successful in communicating our concerns.

The consultation process and the campaign undertaken by the AVAA was a very involved and expensive process leaving our resources depleted. The AVAA was heavily supported through financial contributions from Pickles, Manheim, Graysonline and Slattery Auctions, who each contributed to the cost of the Government Relations firm. Without this support,  we would not have been in such an educated and informed position in our dealings with the State Ministers and Federal Government.

 

We acknowledge and thank those firms for their invaluable support.

 

WHERE DOES THE FOCUS GO NOW?

Now that the AVAA has successfully defended the proposed changes to the Australian Consumer Law at this time, we will continue to monitor the situation and should the New Zealand review mean this proposal is raised again,  we will again advocate for you in opposing the changes.

The future of the AVAA is looking bright and we can now return our full focus to our strategic goals around advocacy, awareness and education for our members and our industry.

The recent review was testament to the value of an industry body leading the discussions and highlighted that the more members the AVAA has, the more resources we have to increase the reputation of our industry and serve our members.  We will continue to focus on extending our reach and our membership drives.

We have successfully implemented a CPD program and during 2019 we will be focusing on increasing the educational opportunities for AVAA members. As the peak industry body, we aim to have the most recognisable courses available for auctioneers and valuers at all levels. Partnerships have already been established with USPAP and IVSC and we will continue to focus on additional relationships with leading institutions and organisations.

The momentum we are currently experiencing is very exciting, and sets 2019 up for immense growth.  Thank you to our members for the support during the Australian Consumer Law Review and the support for the AVAA and our position. We will continue to share our future vision and strategic initiatives with our members, and if you have any suggestions for the association please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

 

Tim Slattery

President