TMA cites modification risk in 'right to repair' recommendations

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The Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia (TMA) has cited concerns over recommended changes to law relating to a farmer's right to repair their machinery.

The Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia (TMA) has thrown its support behind farmers' right to repair

The Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia (TMA) has called on government bodies to work with industry on "workable solutions" on a proposed right to repair.

The TMA, an industry body which represents manufacturers, importers and sellers of agricultural tractors, is in full support of the rights of farmers to maintain and repair their own machinery, executive director Gary Northover says.

Speaking at the release of a statement of principles outlining that support, Northover says TMA member companies were committed to supporting farmers by providing high quality and safe agricultural machinery to boost productivity and reduce environmental impacts.

 "That includes providing farmers and repairers with training, diagnostic information and support, plus information on service, parts, operation and safety," he says.

"The Statement of Principles reinforces the industry’s commitment to industry changes that improve machinery without adding additional cost or putting safety, performance or environmental standards at risk."

RELATED: Right to repair your machinery is under fire according to government report

The statement follows reports released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Productivity Commission (PC), focusing on a farmer’s right to repair their own equipment.

Both reports identified several challenges for farmers wanting to complete maintenance themselves or via third-party machinery repairers.

The ACCC report called for more independent competition in the repair market as well as changes to warranties issued on machinery in the agricultural space.

Similarly, the Productivity Commission – which is set to hand down its final report to the federal government on October 29 – called on the ACCC to establish benchmarks for the durability of products and also recommended the government should amend the Competition and Consumer Regulations Act 2010, which required manufacturers to update their warranties to include further information.

Northover however, says the recommendations iterated by the ACCC and PC are not a perfect solution to the country’s right to repair problem and highlighted the potential ramifications which could stem from implementing them.

"These recommendations will have unintended consequences for the Australian agriculture industry by creating safety, warranty, and environmental concerns that will affect dealers and their customers," he says.

"We support the right for farmers to carry out their own repairs or maintenance, but that does not mean a right to modify. These machines are often complex and set up to operate safely while optimising performance. Modifying them creates significant safety risks."

"If the recommendations from the ACCC and Productivity Commission are implemented in their current form, we are concerned repairs will be made by people who don’t have the required training and may result in machines not being fixed correctly the first time. That can in turn lead to increased downtime and other breakdowns, which create knock on effects that can be expensive to remedy.

"We urge the ACCC and Productivity Commission to work with our industry to develop workable solutions that won’t create safety, warranty or environmental issues, or adversely affect rural communities."

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