The presence of Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and high-ranking Opposition MP, Anthony Albanese, at the 2018 AADA National Dealer Convention is a sign of the growing power of the advocacy work AADA does on behalf of its members.
As well as being the Deputy Prime Minister – a position he took up earlier this year – Mr McCormack is the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, a key portfolio for the retail automotive industry.
Mr McCormack will speak at the Cox Automotive Keynote Session on the afternoon of Tuesday, 4 September, while Mr Albanese will be part of the Macquarie General Session earlier that morning.
AADA has welcomed powerful people in the past, but never two in such influential positions – one from either side of politics – at the height of their influence.
As Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Dealers will be keen to hear Mr McCormack’s views on the future of Australia’s automotive industry. He is known for his forthright views, having once told then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott that “being less forthright is not in my nature. I didn’t come to this place to snivel and be a backroom Dealer”.
His previous ministerial positions include a stint as Minister for Small Business – another department of great relevance to our industry – and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance.
Mr Albanese is a former Deputy Prime Minister and the current Shadow Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, Cities and Towns. He is a potential leader of the Labor Party, so delegates will be carefully listening to what he has to say as well.
The power of advocacy
The presence of these two men is testament to the work put in by AADA to expand the sphere of influence of Dealers. In May, we launched our economic data mapping website ‘DealerNomics’ (http://dealernomics.aada.asn.au) at Parliament House in Canberra. Political leaders and staff, automotive industry stakeholders and key media outlets attended and are coming to realise just how important our industry is to the national economy.
The mapping tool demonstrates the economic contribution of new car Dealers in Australia. The ‘DealerNomics’ tool was developed for the AADA by professional services firm BDO, and shows the economic contribution made by new car Dealers at a national, state/territory and electorate level.
It’s a great visual tool which shows a range of economic indicators, including that new car Dealers make a total economic contribution of $14.9 billion to the economy and employ about 70,000 people countrywide.
The impact of DealerNomics has already been felt and the event was attended by various federal MPs from both the Government and the Opposition, many of whom were very interested to see the contribution Dealers made in their respective electorates, both state and federal.
Minister for Small and Family Business, the Hon Craig Laundy MP, spoke at the event, sharing with attendees his passion around car Dealers and their importance in the local community as small business owners. He was impressed by the DealerNomics website and the data it contains for not only Australia and the States/Territories but for each electorate around the country.
AADA CEO, David Blackhall, expressed his determination to give legislators an idea of the economic impact franchised new car Dealers have as they consider regulatory issues which affect this important industry.
“The cessation of passenger vehicle manufacturing in Australia has created the perception that there is no longer a local automotive industry. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
“New car dealerships are located in federal electorates across Australia and we are determined to give legislators an idea of our economic impact as they consider regulatory issues that affect this important industry.”
It is more important than ever that decision-makers in Canberra are informed of the contribution Dealers make in communities across Australia. Over the past few years the industry has been hit with a raft of regulation which shows little sign of abatement. The AADA secretariat is currently fighting for Dealers on a number of fronts, including a joint parliamentary inquiry into the effectiveness of the Franchising Code of Conduct; the Federal Government’s likely implementation of a regulatory solution to the sharing of service and repair information; reforms to Australia’s Consumer Law, and ASIC’s reforms on the sale of add-on insurance.
Other regulations are coming, with the Federal Government due to make a decision on vehicle emissions and implementation of reforms around the treatment of vulnerable workers.
AADA urges Dealers to visit the DealerNomics website and encourages them to make an appointment with their Member of Parliament or Senator to demonstrate our value to this country.
By-elections bring opportunity
The five ‘Super Saturday’ federal by-elections to be held on July 28 due to the dual-citizenship fiasco represent a great chance for Dealers to use the DealerNomics tool.
The seat of Braddon in Tasmania is held by the Labor Party with a margin of 2.2%, or just 2,846 votes. DealerNomics shows that in this electorate alone the retail automotive industry contributes $303.14 million in annual turnover, spends $46.76 million in wages and other expenses, employs 320 people, collects $4.83 million in duties, $2.41 million in new car registrations, and $11.20 million in taxes, amongst a total economic contribution of $65.20 million.
The ALP holds the Queensland seat of Longman by an even smaller margin – just 1,390 votes, or less than 1%. Here, Dealers make an overall economic contribution of $97.25 million, employing 464 people and contributing almost $30 million in combined taxes, duties and registrations. The numbers are similar for the seats of Perth and Fremantle in Western Australia, and Mayo in South Australia.
These by-elections are the first opportunity for Dealers to use the DealerNomics tool to flex their own advocacy muscles and show the politicians making decisions on our livelihoods just how important and influential we are.
Advocacy works. AADA will continue to represent Dealers’ interests, and we urge Dealers to use this tool to advocate on their own behalf as well.
Braddon, a rural electorate in the north-west of Tasmania, has evolved from being a safe Liberal seat to a marginal seat in recent elections. Held by the Liberal Party from its inception in 1955 through to 1998, it has changed hands between the two major parties five times in the past 20 years.
It is currently held by Labor’s Justine Keay, who won the seat from Liberal incumbent, Brett Whiteley, with a 4.76% swing at the 2016 federal election. Ms Keay held the seat with a two-party preferred margin of 2.2%, but was forced to resign after she was found to have UK citizenship.
Ms Keay is seeking pre-selection and Mr Whiteley is likely to again be the Liberals’ candidate, so the battle is likely to be a replay of the 2016 election.
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
An original division dating back to Federation, Fremantle is a traditional Labor stronghold. The party has held the seat since 1934, with notable members including Kim Beazley Sr., John Dawkins and Carmen Lawrence, as well as former Prime Minister, John Curtin.
Josh Wilson won the seat with a margin of 7.52% in 2016, and is running again after resigning over the citizenship/eligibility controversy.
As with the Perth by-election, the Liberal Party is not fielding a candidate, with the Greens’ Dorinda Cox opposing Mr Wilson.
The retail motor industry employs 440 people in the electorate, paying $38.64 million in wages, contributing $15.39 million in taxes, and collecting $10.93 million in duties.
Longman, in the Moreton Bay region north of Brisbane, is a young electorate, first proclaimed in 1994. In that time it has proved to be mostly a Liberal National seat, although Labor did hold it from 2007-2010, and won it again at the 2016 election.
Susan Lamb enjoyed a massive 7.71% swing to win the seat from Liberal National member, Wyatt Roy, by a thin 0.79%.
Ms Lamb resigned over the citizenship saga, but is recontesting the seat. Former State MP, Trevor Ruthenberg, is the Liberal National candidate, while One Nation and the Australian People’s Party will also contest the seat.
MAYO, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
A rural electorate to the east, south, south-east and south-west of Adelaide, Mayo was established in 1984. It was a safe Liberal seat held by former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer from 1984-2008, and by Jamie Briggs from 2008 to 2016.
Rebekha Sharkie of the Nick Xenophon Team (now known as the Centre Alliance) won the seat at the 2016 Federal Election with 55% of the two-party-preferred vote, but resigned when she was found to hold British citizenship.
Ms Sharkie will re-contest the seat, but faces a tough challenge from Georgina Downer, daughter of Alexander, who is running for the Liberal Party. The Greens are also contesting the seat, however the ALP is not.
With 459 employees in Mayo, the dealership footprint is large, paying more than $40 million in wages in the electorate, amongst a total economic contribution of $95.48 million.
PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Perth was one of the 65 original seats contested in the first federal election. A marginal seat between the 1940s and 1980s, it has been a safe Labor seat since 1983.
Tim Hammond retained the seat for the ALP with a 3.33% two-party-preferred margin at the 2016 election. Unlike the other by-elections, this one has nothing to do with the citizenship saga, with Mr Hammond resigning to spend more time with his young family. WA Labor state secretary, Patrick Gorman, will run in his place.
The Liberal Party is unlikely to field a candidate, with the Greens and Independent Liberal, Jim Grayden, opposing Mr Gorman.