The Palaszczuk Government today delivered on its election commitment to provide greater rights for Queenslanders who have been sold ‘lemon’ vehicles, including cars, motorhomes and caravans.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 would increase the consumer protections of people sold new and old motor vehicles colloquially known as ‘lemons’ – vehicles with numerous defects that reoccur despite multiple repair attempts or where defects have caused a motor vehicle to be out of service for a prolonged period of time.
“We know the financial and emotional pain that is caused when things continually go wrong with a newly purchased vehicle,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“It shouldn’t happen, but if it does consumers should have the right to demand a refund or replacement.
“The Palaszczuk Government wants to make sure anyone who buys a new or old vehicle gets a fair go.
“That is why this Bill increases QCAT’s current jurisdictional limit of $25,000 to $100,000 for matters involving motor vehicles with either a major fault or multiple minor faults.
“This legislation means if a consumer cannot obtain a suitable remedy in negotiation with the dealer or manufacturer under Australian Consumer Law (ACL), they have the option of seeking a remedy through QCAT or the courts.
“Furthermore, this Bill will also re-instate statutory warranties to older second-hand cars, meaning there will be a requirement for motor dealers to provide a warranty for cars more than 10 years old or that have clocked up more than 160,000km.
“Easier access to QCAT helps consumers avoid a long and expensive court case, often against the resources of large corporations.”
This legislation builds on the Attorney-General’s strong advocacy regarding ‘lemon laws’ at the national as well as state level.
“In 2016, the Palaszczuk Government was successful in getting the issue of lemon laws on the national agenda,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“Last month, consumer affairs ministers from across the nation and I agreed to clarify existing provisions so consumers can obtain a refund if there are multiple ‘non-major’ failures. We also agreed to increase the threshold in the ACL definition of ‘consumer’ from $40,000 to $100,000.
“While these are important steps forward when it comes to people being sold ‘lemons’, I will continue to push for more to be done at a national level.”
RACQ Head of Technical and Safety Policy Steve Spalding welcomed the reinstatement of warranty protection for used cars.
“Most buyers don’t expect, or are often unable to afford, expensive and unplanned repairs shortly after purchasing a vehicle, so when things go wrong it can be financially devastating,” Mr Spalding said.
“We’re happy to see the reinstatement of warranty protection which will protect those buying older or higher mileage vehicles.”
Ashton Wood, consumer advocate and owner of Facebook group Consumer Laws Australia, welcomed the increase of the QCAT jurisdiction limit.
“The Attorney-General of Queensland has been a driving force behind clearer consumer laws and a revision of the QCAT limit, since we approached her in 2015,” Mr Wood said.
“Until now, owners of faulty cars in Queensland that cost over $25,000 could not use the QCAT tribunal, resulting in many consumers on-selling their problematic vehicles or just putting up with the inconvenience of an unreliable vehicle rather than the expense of Magistrates Court.
“The increase of the QCAT jurisdiction now allows the majority of vehicle owners to get a fair hearing at the tribunal.”