Towing review outside scope

Melbourne, 8 October – The Essential Services Commission draft report into Accident Towing Regulation in Victoria has been heavily criticised by towing operator representative, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC). 

The recently released report has pushed far beyond the original Terms of Reference and has focused more on the insurance and body repair industry than accident towing, said VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym. 

The report is littered with insurance industry perspectives and draft recommendations that appear to sideline consumers’ choice of repairer. 

Instead, the report cites the insurers as the primary point of post-accident contact, which is an unfair advantage for the insurance industry, and does not help vehicle owners wanting to choose their repairer. 

Most alarmingly, legislation that prohibits and penalises towing operators for soliciting for repairs at an accident scene will remain, yet insurers will be given free rein to direct consumers to ‘preferred repairers’ without restriction if the draft recommendations are accepted. 

“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. 

The draft recommendations also suggest that operators in geographical areas where towing fees are currently not regulated should publish their fees on VicRoads’ website. 

“The problem is that these fixed fees would persist irrespective of the real costs associated with individual accident towing situations and does not take into account the multitude of factors that could impact on towing costs, especially in regional areas,” Mr Gwilym said. 

Regional Victorian towing operators are required to service areas 55 square kilometres greater than in NSW. 

“Fixing fees in unregulated areas, where there may be limited towing work, could place operators in financial jeopardy which could extend to having no towing services at all in large regional areas.” 

Ironically metropolitan Melbourne has lower regulated towing fees than other states, like NSW, which has similar running and vehicle storage costs. There is no mention in the draft report of metropolitan Melbourne towing operators getting fee parity with other states. VACC wants that recommendation in the report. 

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 VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym
VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, says the draft report has focused more on the insurance and body repair industry than on accident towing