Back in May, the MTA learned that the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission had made a recommendation to repeal the Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading (Tow Truck Operators Code of Practice) Regulations 1999 (Tow Truck Regulations) as part of a broader legislative tidy up in the Statute Law Amendment (Territory Economic Reconstruction) Bill 2021.
If passed, this would have meant an end to the roster systems in Darwin and Alice Springs, as well as the Tow Truck Operators Code of Practice Administering Authority.
Interstate experiences of deregulated towing operations in places such as Perth and the Gold Coast have led to consumers being taken advantage of by dishonest operators and those involved in organised crime through intimidation at accident scenes, price gouging and bribery of public officers for crash information. Western Australia in particular has recognised these issues and is considering regulation in response.
After consulting with members, the MTA strongly opposed the proposal which would impact both the taxpayer as well legitimate towing operators who have committed themselves to the roster system in good faith.
Members also highlighted that in some instances, NT Police have directed the NT Fire and Rescue Service to use their appliances to move vehicles onto road verges at the taxpayer’s expense, rather than making use of the established towing roster which more sensibly shifts costs to vehicle owners and their insurers.
Pleasingly, the NT Government listened to our concerns, with Attorney-General Selena Uibo MP calling a meeting to better understand the issues at play. As a result, the Attorney-General directed the Acting Commissioner of Consumer Affairs to ask that NT Police continue to honour the towing rosters in place, as well as propose steps towards longer term modernisation of towing in the Northern Territory.