Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (10:36): I rise to speak to the Fair Trading (Motor Vehicle Insurers and Repairers) Amendment Bill. This is an issue that goes back many years in the vehicle repair industry. Back in the day, after meeting with some of my local crash repairers in the last term of parliament, I remember that the former member for Goyder, Steven Griffiths, and I met with insurers, not just local representatives but their lead company men from Sydney, I believe. They flew in for the meeting. As we know, there are only a few—maybe as limited as two or three, but I am not sure—main insurance companies that cover a whole raft of smaller companies for car insurance.
It is interesting that it has become a closed shop, so to speak, where if you have an accident the recommendation will be to go to a certain crash repairer. In a democratic society, I do not believe that to be right. What really alarmed me during that meeting was that when I asked these insurance bosses from Sydney what their script was—because they said they read a script over the phone to people when they put in a claim—and if they could play me the script or read it to me, that was denied. That proved the exact point and that is why the member for Waite has brought this bill.
The Economic and Finance Committee also investigated this, and rightly so. It did alarm me when I could not even get either a written portrayal of the script or hear it played to me, so the question was answered without being answered. One of my local repairers has had to spend many thousands of dollars making sure that people acknowledge their business. Especially over the years as an MP, and with multiple kangaroo hits over time, I have been a reasonably regular customer of this crash repair company and they do a magnificent job. But, again, even I have had to make a point that that is where I wanted to get my car repaired.
I remember one such incident. We were down at an event at the former member for MacKillop's home and left at night to go to Mount Gambier—we had a seminar there—and I just took off down the road—
Mr PEDERICK: I won't even listen to those comments. I did not get very far down the road, which is supposedly a shortcut to Mount Gambier, and soon found it littered with kangaroos. Well, guess what? The Hon. John Dawkins was in the passenger seat at the time and, next thing, we were looking at this six foot, close to two-metre high kangaroo buck looking at us out of one eye. I thought, 'It's just a matter of motion that we are going to hit you.' I hit him doing about 100 km/h, threw him about eight or 10 metres and caused about $14,000 damage to a Prado with a bull bar: it crunched in all the front end.
The bull bar was written off, the front end was written off and the bonnet and I think both side front panels were written off. Then the tail of that big roo, that big buck, came around and slapped the passenger door and wrote that off as well. We went back, and I witnessed the former member for Schubert, Ivan Venning—
The Hon. D.C. van Holst Pellekaan: The plot thickens.
Mr PEDERICK: Well, I don't think there was much mystery. I do not know whether the former member for Schubert thought he was a supersleuth, but he was taking photographs at the scene. I made sure the kangaroo was dead because you do not want an animal to be in pain, and he was definitely dead from getting hit at that speed.
I had a look at what had happened, and a bit of bull bar was scraping a tyre, so we did what we could with the few tools we had. We levered the bull bar off the tyre and limped into Mount Gambier. I found a crash repair shop the next morning, and I said, 'Just get an angle grinder and cut that bit off and I will trundle home.' They wanted to fix it, but I said, 'No, I've got my own repairer,' and they did a fantastic job.
I had to do a similar thing with my Holden ute many years ago now. I used to buy machinery in Western Australia and, between Kalgoorlie and Norseman, you would come over the crest of a hill. One day, there was an emu, and I thought the same thing: he went underneath and put the bull bar into a tyre. I had to be picked up with that one, as that was not driveable because the radiator had gone. Anyway, we got home after the appropriate pick-up by a truck that came out of Norseman. It took us down to Esperance, where I had actually organised to buy an air seeder, of all things.
With the work vehicle, the LeasePlan vehicle I had at the time, I went through the process, and I just had to make sure that I could get the repairer that I could get. It is interesting to note that out of the Economic and Finance Committee inquiry there is a broad range of 11 recommendations, including whether they are non-original equipment in parts. The one recommendation I am concentrating on here, as you have heard from my contribution, is recommendation 5:
5. The South Australian Government require motor vehicle insurers to disclose any direct or indirect ownership or contractual arrangements in place when directing policy space holders to specific crash repairers or providing crash repair options.
There is a whole raft of other recommendations, including recommendation 6:
6. The South Australian Government introduce legislation to ensure all South Australian motor vehicle insurance policies allow for, at the customer's discretion, the motor vehicle to be repaired by a crash repairer located within a reasonable distance of a regional customer's home address.
As I indicated, I found it quite concerning when I asked senior people with one of the main oversight insurance companies, one of the lead insurers, about the script people hear down the line when they put in a claim, and it would be very coercive. As we have seen through COVID, South Australians are a pretty compliant lot, which is good—unlike Melbourne, but that is another story. It is not unreasonable to think that people get a message down the line, 'You have to get your vehicle repaired by such and such an insurer and this and that,' and I am sure there would be extra dialogue, 'If you go elsewhere, this is the issue with that.'
I must stress that even now people do have a choice of crash repairer. They do not have to listen to that script, whatever it is. I have not had to listen to it because if we send a kangaroo to a better place we go through LeasePlan. I must admit they have been very effective in getting our vehicles fixed, and I get them fixed at the local crash repairer that I choose in Murray Bridge.
I think this a fair piece of legislation to support. I know there are some moves nationally, but I congratulate the member for Waite on bringing this to the parliament because we need to find better equity for motor vehicle operators in this state.