THE NATION'S peak body for the agricultural machinery sector, the Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia (TMA) has outlined its stance on the contentious right to repair issue.
The TMA has outlined a statement of principles regarding the right for farmers to repair their own machinery.
The issue has been a hot topic, with farmers demanding the right to be able to either conduct their own repairs and maintenance or use a third party mechanic and not have to rely on manufacturer approved servicing, which they say can be costly and take too long at critical periods of the farming year, such as harvest.
While the TMA supports the right to repair machinery it does not condone farmers modifying equipment.
"Our members are committed to supporting farmers through provision of high quality and safe agricultural machinery that reduces downtime, maximises productivity and minimises environmental impact," said Gary Northover, TMA executive director.
"That includes providing farmers and repairers with training, diagnostic information and support, plus information on service, parts, operation and safety," Mr Northover said.
Mr Northover said while the TMA supported many of the recommendations made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Productivity Commission in recent reports.
However, he said both inquiries made recommendations that could have far-reaching unintended consequences for the industry and more particularly for rural and regional Australia.
"Agricultural machinery is often highly complex and requires extensive training and experience to repair or service," he said.
"These recommendations will have unintended consequences for the Australian agriculture industry by creating safety, warranty, and environmental concerns that will affect dealers and their customers."
Mr Northover said while the concepts from both the ACCC and the PC reports were sound there needed to be further work to get the recommendations into a workable format.
"If the recommendations from the ACCC and Productivity Commission are implemented in their current form, we are concerned repairs will be made by people who don't have the required training and may result in machines not being fixed correctly the first time," he said.
"That can in turn lead to increased downtime and other breakdowns, which create knock on effects that can be expensive to remedy.
"We urge the ACCC and Productivity Commission to work with our industry to develop workable solutions that won't create safety, warranty or environmental issues, or adversely affect rural communities."
The Productivity Commission is this week holding online public hearings which will provide participants with the opportunity to elaborate on their submissions, respond to submissions of others, and to discuss issues with Commissioners.