Tech repair on Nats’ agenda

Cally Dupe and Tom ZaunmayrCountryman
The earth shook for Neridup farmer Colin de Grussa. PHOTO: DANELLA BEVIS
Camera IconThe earth shook for Neridup farmer Colin de Grussa. PHOTO: DANELLA BEVIS Credit: Picture: Danella Bevis

Farmers are a step closer to having the “right to repair” farm machinery with the Federal Government releasing a consultation paper for public comment.

While a legal battle is unfolding in the US between the right to repair movement and manufacturers, a similar battle is brewing closer to home.

Federal Treasury this month released a consultation paper proposing mandatory sharing of motor vehicle servicing and repair information between manufacturers and anyone requesting access.

Submissions are open until 5pm on March 11.

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Nationals WA agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa said right to repair legislation would make it easier for people to repair personal devices, such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, and was important for farmers and workers in the agricultural system.

He said that big tech companies and manufacturers in the agricultural industry had made it increasingly difficult for consumers to repair their own devices as well as farm machinery which often uses embedded software.

“This proposal will help to support small businesses and families across the country by ensuring people get the best deal when having their cars repaired,” he said.

“Consumers in the US are pushing back on big companies who hold all the cards when it comes to determining who can repair vehicles, devices and machinery.”

The right to repair refers to government legislation which would allow consumers the ability to repair and modify their own electronic devices and machinery, which otherwise require the consumer to use only offered services or void the product’s warranty.

It proposes a mandatory scheme for the sharing of motor vehicle servicing and repair information, reflecting a push towards similar legislation in the United States.

Machinery manufacturers such as John Deere now require customers to sign a licence agreement which prevents them, or unauthorised third-parties, from performing software repairs.

The Nationals WA moved a motion at the party’s 2018 State Conference, calling on the Federal Government to introduce right to repair legislation.

The party said manufacturers should sell genuine replacement parts and tools, and make repair documentation available to anyone.

The consultation paper is available at treasury.gov.au/consultation.

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