Palaszczuk government throws lemon car owners under a bus
from Tracey Leigh
Broken election promises and inaction on recommendations from the Lemon Laws inquiry of 2015 are hurting Queensland ‘lemon’ vehicle owners badly. It is costing consumers and the State economy in the millions as rogue manufacturers and dealers continue to thrive and grow.
A ‘lemon’ is a vehicle—including a car, caravan or other recreational vehicle, or motorbike—that is severely defective, often dangerous and has often had multiple repairs but is still defective. This leaves the owner financially, emotionally and often physically in a very bad way.
The Australian Consumer Law is supposed to protect consumers but it doesn’t when it comes to expensive products. Regulators are supposed to protect consumers but they don’t and say they can’t. Rogue businesses exploit loopholes in the ACL, breach other laws and never get fined or prosecuted.
The Paluszek Government could have resolved this problem in 2016, after they accepted most of the recommendations of the Lemon Inquiry Report. They didn’t do a thing. All they agreed to do is fob it off to the ACL review process, which is yet to conclude some two years later.
They also made an election promise in March to increase the QCAT limit from $25,000 to $100,000. The majority recommendation in the Lemon Inquiry report is no cap but $100,000 is better than no change. Queensland lemon vehicle owners are still waiting. I am one of them. How much longer?
The consumer losses are in the multi millions and all governments around Australia are protecting the perpetrators. They fiddle while Rome is burning. The financial losses are one thing, but the losses in life are quite another. So many new vehicles are dangerous, there are no product safety laws, recalls are often too late and there have been few, if any, prosecutions.
Governments are paying lip service to consumer protection while in fact protecting the perpetrators. The wheels of government grind very, very slowly while consumers continue to suffer. The Queensland Government is a prime example of lip service and inaction after initiating an inquiry and getting consumers’ hopes up that there might be change.
The problem goes much, much deeper. Product safety statistics are quite horrifying. ACCC reports 4.5 million products recalled (including the Takata air bag disaster, with no prosecutions to date); half of all Australian households are affected by unsafe products; a minimum of ten consumers a day are injured by faulty products; and cars, caravans and camping products are listed as key culprits.
How does this happen if there is an effective consumer protection regime? It doesn’t and is evidence that the ACL and consumer protection is fundamentally flawed in Australia, while governments choose to protect the perpetrators and abandon consumers by not enforcing the laws that are already there.
Walk the talk Premier Paluszek. Or have more blood on your hands. You would think they might learn after the Dreamworld disaster but the Queensland government appears to be a slow learner.