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VACC: New AADA is on its own

Back-story: New dealer body the AADA formed amid feelings in some quarters than the previous body, confusingly also called the AADA, had conflicting interests.

Dealers “have every right” to form new AADA body, but VACC sounds warning

25 Feb 2014

THERE was some “smoke and mirrors” involved in the way the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) was born and the way it is presenting itself to Australia’s car dealers, according to the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC).

The VACC, one of the seven owners of the previous franchised dealer body, hasalso rejected criticisms from the new AADA about the way the previous body had represented franchised dealers.

And the chamber’s executive director, David Purchase, told GoAuto that there had been no agreement between the state motor trades associations and the promoters of the new AADA about the use of the well-recognised initials.

The previous AADA, the Australian Automobile Dealers Association, had been formed by the state bodies through what is now the Canberra-based Australian Motor Industry Federation (AMIF) to represent the interests of franchised dealers.

“Well, there was no agreement,” Mr Purchase said about the use of the initials.

“There have been some things that have been done, frankly, too quickly and without sufficient consultation.

“I think what is confusing, not only for some of us and, no doubt, other observers, is the fact that the names they are using are very similar and there does seem to be some smoke and mirrors in all of this.”

Mr Purchase stressed that, if the large dealers behind the reborn AADA believed they needed a more effective national body, they had every right to try to achieve that.

“VACC has not, and will not, do anything to hinder that. If the larger dealers want it, they should be entitled to have it,” he said.

But he said it was curious, given the criticisms leveled at the performance of the old AADA, that the promoters of the new body would choose to use a very similar name and the same initials.

“If they were so disappointed and concerned about the past, why didn’t they come forward with a completely new name and so on.”

In launching the new AADA, chief executive Patrick Tessier said the old AADA was flawed because it was created by the state motor trades associations that had to represent both franchised dealers and independent service and repair shops.

“It was flawed in both its design and in its ability to truly represent the interests of Australia’s vehicle retailers,” Mr Tessier told GoAuto.

However, Mr Purchase disputed this claim, pointing out that during the recent crucial deliberations around service data sharing by the car-makers, the AMIF drew up two separate submissions to the enquiry, one arguing the case for the franchised dealers and the other representing the interests of the independents.

80 center imageLeft: VACC executive director David Purchase.

Mr Purchase said that, if there were shortfalls in the performance of the old AADA, it was not down to the motor trades associations.

“I suspect one of the reasons why the old national dealer body might not have done everything that all dealers, particularly larger dealers, had wanted is because it always found it difficult to get input from those larger dealers.

“It’s not unfair to say that, if the old national body had any deficiencies, those deficiencies might have been exacerbated because of the difficulty in getting dealer buy-in or input,” Mr Purchase said.

“There were a number of larger dealers who did not participate for whatever reason and I think it would have been a much better organisation if they had’ve participated.

“If their concern was the previous body was dominated by smaller dealers, all they had to do was to get involved.”

The new body is appealing to dealers to become members and to commit to a level of $3 for every new car sold, which would raise more than $3 million a year if all dealers joined the new AADA. That would fund a small secretariat that would develop policies and present them to government.

Mr Purchase warned that, if the membership drive did not achieve its target, there would be no help available from the AMIF, and the new AADA would be all on its own.

“The dealers, especially the large ones, have every right to have an effective national voice,” he said.

“They have every right to set up their own organisation, own it, control it, and make it as independent as they like.

“But if they want that right, they have got to pay for it themselves, they have to fund it themselves.

“To ask the various state associations to contribute in any way would be inappropriate, and also create a very dangerous precedent.”

Mr Purchase said that, if AMIF or the state associations assisted the new AADA, they would have every other sector of their memberships wanting to break away and asking the associations to pay for it.

He also made the point that dealers would probably remain members of the state associations, even if they did join the new AADA, because the state associations provided a range of valuable services to their members.

“I think it will be highly unlikely that the national dealer body will be able to provide the services that the various state bodies provide, and therefore dealers will need to be involved with both.”

The associations offer a lot of support to their members to help them cope with their legal requirements in areas like industrial relations, human resources and environmental standards.

“Organisations like us provide a great range of services that all parties wish to avail themselves of.”

Mr Purchase said differences of opinion in large organisations were daily occurrences and that the VACC and the other state associations were skilled at sorting out those situations.

“It is part and parcel of our everyday activity to reconcile differing views, and I think we do it remarkably well.”“In a sense we act like Governments and councils, who often have competing priorities, and we make sure that the interests of all the internal groups are put forward.”

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