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MTA Chief Executive Craig Pomare in a service station

CE Comment: August

Craig Pomare speaks about the fuel market, the importance of safety, trade training and access to technical information.

FUEL MARKET STUDY

MTA is keeping one step ahead as the government prepares to give the Commerce Commission the power to fully investigate market pricing. We expect the fuel market to be one of the first to be delved into, and have begun a round of discussions with service station members, representative groups, and associations to find out more about how different fuel suppliers and retailers structure their supply and retail models. We want to be sure the Commerce Commission asks the right questions when it carries out its investigation. Our concern is that the MBIE fuel market financial performance study last year lacked some of the necessary information that would help to fully understand the complexity of the issues and the drivers of fuel pricing. It is important that the Commerce Commission and other decision-makers fully grasp the issues before making some regulatory changes that could impact on the business of service station members. As your advocates, we’ll be making sure that your voice is heard in these discussions.

SAFETY FIRST AND ALWAYS

It’s been great to get a heap of positive feedback on the tyre safety posters and pads we have sent out to members. It seems it’s really helping to explain the importance of tyre tread depth to customers. Our campaign to increase the minimum tyre tread depth is a small step among many that we and others in the sector can take while the government makes its own moves to improve vehicle safety. These steps include the recent expansion of ANCAP’s (Australasia New Car Assessment Programme) testing programme to reflect new safety technology and child safety developments. There’s a definite sense that the government is looking at a wide range of ideas and options to help bring down the road toll. We’re doing our best to have a range of specific vehicle safety issues examined as part of this, including tyre tread depth.

TRADE TRAINING IN SCHOOLS

There’s an interesting article on page 12 from an American perspective on the role schools should be playing to give young people a taste of the trades as part of their education. I’m sure I’ll get no arguments from most members that there is too much weight being given to getting students into university. This comes at a cost to the kids who are smart, practical and great candidates for a trade. They get no experience of tinkering with machinery, wood, and developing their analytical and diagnostic skills. It’s an issue that we must continue to pursue with schools and the Ministry of Education. It’s also something of concern to our counterparts in Australia, who report a national shortage of mechanics, with 7,000 vacancies in Victoria alone that remain unfilled. They too want schools to start encouraging students to take up a trade instead of getting two degrees and ending up as a barista.

ACCESS TO TECHNICAL REPAIR INFORMATION

Our staff are in the last stages of analysing the information from our member survey to find out the extent to which independent general repairers are affected by poor access to manufacturers’ service and repair information. It’s an issue now mentioned frequently as more and more modern cars come out of warranty. This is our first study to get solid data. The early results show that lack of access to repair information is a growing issue for most general repair workshops, and some of you are worried that it may put you out of business. There won’t be a single answer to the problem, but there are steps workshops can take to make life a bit easier. The report will be sent out shortly to members who responded and there will be full coverage in next month’s Radiator.