Towing changes will leave motorists high and dry
Melbourne, 13 October – Victorian motorists will be left stranded in regional areas, under proposed changes to Accident Towing Regulation.
The draft report, released by the Essential Services Commission, contains recommendations that threaten the viability of small towing businesses in regional areas, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) argues.
VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, said proposed regulation of towing fees in regional areas is not conducive to the variable nature of running a towing business.
“Fixing fees in unregulated areas, where there may be limited towing work, could place operators in financial jeopardy which could extend to vulnerable motorists having no towing services at all in regional areas,” Mr Gwilym said.
Mr Gwilym said it is impossible for towing operators to forecast the potential cost of a tow, given the location and circumstances of accidents varies greatly.
“In regional Victorian areas, a towing business may, on average, be required to service accident scenes 55 square kilometres greater than their counterparts in NSW. There’s no way they can run their business under fixed fees,” he said.
Mr Gwilym said if Victoria were to have regulated towing fees then they should be at parity with other states, like NSW, which has similar running and vehicle storage costs.
“There is no mention in the draft report of metropolitan Melbourne operators getting fee parity with other states,” he said.
Mr Gwilym also criticised the report for going far beyond the original Terms of Reference and bowing down to big insurance companies at the expense of towing operators, many of whom are small, family owned businesses.
Recommendations that insurers be the primary point of post-accident contact, he said, give insurers an unfair advantage to direct consumers to a repairer, and diminish Victorians’ choice of repairer.
“Why was the industry not notified of the report’s extended terms of reference? Doing so would have ensured its position on broader issues was heard. This represents a failure in the consultation process,” Mr Gwilym said.
VACC is working collectively with Victoria’s towing operators and will engage high-level legal advice on the recommendations in the report to ensure Victoria’s towing operators get a fair hearing; are not adversely affected as a result of the review; and that safe, efficient and timely towing services are maintained.
VACC is Victoria’s peak automotive industry body representing more than 5,000 small business members.
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VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, says the proposed changes will make it difficult for regional towing operators to run a viable business