AADA Chairman Terry Keating told delegates at the recent National Dealer Convention that their association had had a successful year, with much achieved in financial and advocacy terms but much still to achieve.

“I believe as an association we’ve had a very successful year in the last 12 months,” he said.

“We’ve only been going for approximately three years and obviously we’re still in a growing phase – we’re still in a building phase – we’ve got a lot of work to do on policy and advocacy and I think it is hopefully reaching a crescendo in the reasonably near future.

“There are a lot of people who want to get a cheap entry into our business, who covet what we do and want a piece of the action, but don’t necessarily want to put in the time, the commitment or the effort that our members do. Our job, I guess, is to be the goalkeeper and to keep them out.”

Mr Keating said the association was happy with the progress it had made on three fronts: membership numbers; financial position, and policy and advocacy areas.

“Our membership is going forwards and it’s going upwards and we can now claim that we have got an arrangement with every franchise in this country with a volume above eight or nine thousand units per annum, and one or two who are below that,” he said.

“We do anticipate further gains as we continue dialogue with the smaller volume marques and some of them, of course, are quite small.

“Indeed the work we’ve done in collaboration with the Federal Chamber of Automotive industries just on the personal import motor vehicle issue makes me confident that any dialogue we have with these smaller marques – who are essentially among the upper end luxury marques – we’re confident that we can sit down and have a favourable discussion with them. Indeed it is a fact that the work we are doing and therefore the potential beneficiaries of much of our efforts on the personal import issue are, in fact, these fairly low volume marques.”

Mr Keating said AADA’s financial position had improved, along with membership numbers.

“A year ago you could have said we looked like we were in a somewhat questionable position and, indeed, without the very, very substantial support of the Motor Traders Association of Queensland that would have been absolutely true.

“They bankrolled us, they got us going, and we’ve now reached a position where we’ve been able to refund all of that money to them, with the exception of the $200K grant they gave us. I want to acknowledge that. MTAQ and their AADA members saw enough value in this organisation to give us a grant of $200K; we’re very grateful for that.

“We also negotiated some assets – which we’ve since on-sold – from the old MTAA, and as a result we are now in a very solid financial position.”

On policy and advocacy, Mr Keating said AADA had faced “an extreme workload” but that he was very pleased with the progress being made.

“We’ve got what our CEO David Blackhall would refer to as the five red lights – the five major issues in front of us right now. One of them is possibly amber and that is the personal importation of motor vehicles. We hope that common sense might prevail there and we hope that that one might disappear off the table.

“But I think we need to be ever-vigilant on the importation issue because there are people who will keep pushing this agenda.

“Whilst our friends in Canberra say they’re only going to allow in 30,000 cars a year or thereabouts, if you do the mathematics on 30,000 vehicles – and if you make the assumption that it would not make any financial sense at all unless the price was at least into the mid or high $100K price bracket – which, of course, is seriously impacted by our ridiculous Luxury Car Tax – but if you make that assumption and you multiply $30,000 by that price tag, we’re talking five billion dollars-worth of sales volume that will be lost to this industry in this country.”

That would lead to less GST for the federal government, less in LCT, less profit for Australian Dealers and, therefore, less tax dollars for the Australian government.

Mr Keating said many of the policy and advocacy issues facing Dealers were “still works in progress”, but that Dealers should be grateful that AADA’s very capable secretariat, led by David Blackhall and policy director Michael Deed, was representing their interests so well.

“From the perspective of a dealership owner, what we do is probably like an insurance policy on your balance sheet,” he said.

“You think of what your business is worth, not only just in the dollar numbers, but the effort you might have put in over a decade; or two or three or four this business you’ve built up is probably your retirement fund – your superannuation – and we think you’re entitled to be protected on that.

“AADA does have the ability to give you the best protection you’re likely to get, at absolutely the best price. The protection is from policies and regulations that are often less than well-considered and will, ultimately – if we don’t do something about it – represent a disruption to our members’ businesses. Our primary objective is to protect you to the best of our ability, and that’s our commitment.”

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