Recent media commentary claiming the Australian caravanning industry has little or no regulation demonstrates ignorance and a lack of understanding surrounding how the industry is governed, claims Caravan Industry Association of Australia CEO Stuart Lamont.
The Australian caravanning industry is subject to more than 100 Australian Design Rules, Australian Standards and regulations, he said. According to Mr Lamont, Australia is internationally regarded around the world as having the toughest construction standards in the caravan industry “to cater for consumer expectations around use and government expectations around safety”.
“The Australian industry is overseen by a number of different state and federal government departments and authorities with regulatory enforcement based around risk profiles, reported incidences and risk to consumer safety,” Mr Lamont told GoRV.
“In addition to compliance, consumers have added rights and protections surrounding unfair contract terms and around warranty and consumer guarantees through the Australian Consumer Law.
“To suggest the industry has little or no regulation or is self-regulated is rubbish. The industry is under constant review by authorities, and while we can argue that some of the regulation is unnecessary and adds additional burden to industry and cost to consumers for no benefit to the travelling public, the law is the law and there is an expectation that businesses abide within the framework provided by the government.”
Mr Lamont conceded that the industry and the system by which it is governed is “by no means perfect”.
“However, with over 615,000 (recreational) vehicles registered in Australia, it would be impossible to suggest that some problems don’t occur, and in these situations we urge industry businesses to make sure they understand and comply with their legal obligations,” he said.
To complement the regulatory framework and to assist industry businesses understand their compliance and legal obligations, Mr Lamont said that the industry administered a number of educational forums (both for consumers and industry), had imposed much tougher scrutiny on products being displayed at industry-run shows, and had introduced a voluntary accreditation program (RVMAP) which, among other things, inspects industry products at manufacturing premises, retail dealerships and consumer shows. In 2017, more than 1000 inspections would take place, he said, with a full review looking at up to 250 individual items of federal compliance.
TOUGH MEASURES TO COME
In recent weeks, the federal government announced that it was seeking to pass through parliament even tougher enforcement measures concerning trailers (including caravans and other RV products), which was welcomed by Caravan Industry Association of Australia. According to Mr Lamont, this announcement “represents over four years of hard lobbying on behalf of consumers and industry to generate even better outcomes within the industry”.
“The industry is made up of many genuine businesses who employ many Australians and have a strong commitment to manufacturing or importing product which is not only compliant but which seeks to offer the greatest level of satisfaction to their caravanning customers,” he said. “These changes being contemplated will provide tougher and swifter penalties for businesses doing the wrong thing, providing greater consumer protection, and better confidence within those industry businesses committed to doing the right thing by the consumer.
“Caravanning and camping evokes many positive memories and the opportunity to not only explore this great country but to reconnect with family and loved ones.
“It is no wonder that overwhelmingly we hear many great stories of people using and enjoying their RV product, leading to new registrations consistently outperforming other vehicle types.”