A review of Western Australia's motor vehicle repair industry has recommended the Government introduce mandatory minimum standards for people working in the industry, as well as for equipment and premises.
The review revealed widespread agreement between the industry and consumers that improvements were needed.
Releasing the report of the five-month review today, Consumer Affairs Minister Yvonne Henderson said it was the first thorough review of the industry in WA.
It was commissioned by the State Government at the request of the industry.
The 17-member committee, chaired by South Metropolitan Region MLC Cheryl Davenport, included consumers, police and all parts of the industry - insurers, trade instructors, employer and employee representatives.
They were unanimous in their recommendations for greater regulation of the industry.
They recommended minimum standards, improved dispute resolution mechanisms and consideration of the New South Wales 1980 legislation as a model for the WA legislation.
They recommended the minimum standards be phased-in to allow gradual industry compliance with minimum disruption to business.
Mrs Henderson said a phone-in conducted for the review in October indicated dissatisfaction with the industry, in line with the overwhelming support for registration and licensing found by a survey conducted by the Motor Trade Association two years ago.
The phone-in found problems experienced by 86 per cent of the callers - and 84 per cent of disputes had not been satisfactorily resolved.
Mrs Henderson said there were currently 2,000 motor vehicle servicing and repair establishments in WA, employing 9,500 people.
There was a huge range in quality, from dealerships with fully technologically advanced equipment to substandard repair outlets.
She said last financial year 5,000 telephone complaints had been made and 2,000 disputes had been dealt with by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Small Claims Tribunal, Motor Trades Association and RAC.
The review found that time taken to resolve complaints was often lengthy, with major inconvenience to consumers, and there was no effective method of prohibiting unscrupulous traders from continuing business.
Mrs Henderson said the report advised that improved dispute mechanisms and minimum standards set by legislation would benefit both consumers and industry.
It would improve consumer confidence and improve the industry's reputation and image, as well as increase workplace safety and result in safer and more efficient motor vehicles.
Mrs Henderson said the general agreement that improvements were necessary was significant and the Government would carefully examine the report.
Consideration would be given to the NSW legislation which set minimum standards and established a dispute system, and was introduced by the NSW Labor Government at the request of the industry.