ACCC's role in the auto industry

12 January 2022

A question which often arises when speaking with VACC members is “What is the ACCC & what does it do?” 
Its key role is to promote, educate and enforce the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Its primary aim? Compliance.
To achieve compliance objectives, the ACCC uses four flexible and integrated strategies:
  • encouraging compliance with the law by educating and informing consumers and traders about their rights and responsibilities under the Act
  • enforcement of the law, including resolution of contraventions both administratively and by litigation and other formal enforcement outcomes
  • undertaking market studies, or reporting on emerging competition or consumer issues to identify any market failures and how to address them, and to support and inform their compliance and enforcement measures and identify potential areas for policy consideration
  • working with other agencies to implement these strategies, including through coordinated approaches. For example, state consumer affairs.
The ACCC is selective in the matters  in which it investigates and acts, and in the sectors in which it engages in education and market analysis. The ACCC uses this policy to inform its decision-making.

The ACCC uses a range of compliance and enforcement tools to encourage compliance with the Act. 

In deciding which compliance or enforcement tool (or combination of such tools) to use, its stated first priority is always to achieve the best possible outcome for the community and to manage risk.
Its enforcement actions seek to maximise impact and leverage any outcomes across an industry sector. 

For example, the ACCC uses the outcome of one court proceeding to encourage other industry participants in the sector to change their practices. See Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Mazda Australia Pty Ltd [2021] FCA 1493.

The ACCC does not pursue all matters brought to its attention. 

Its role is to focus on those circumstances that will, or have the potential to, impact vulnerable consumers, harm the competitive process or result in widespread consumer or small business detriment. 

The ACCC exercises discretion to direct resources to matters that provide the greatest overall benefit. 

For more information, an industry-specific publication titled Motor Vehicle Sales & Repairs is available at
Words: John Caine, VACC Business & Consumer Affairs.

Need support? VACC members have access to a dedicated Business & Consumer Affairs service. The department provides timely and practical non-legal solutions to the problems businesses face on a day-to-day basis.

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