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First prosecution for new car dealing laws

THE Western Australian Government has recorded its first court prosecution under new legislation designed to get tough on unlicensed car dealers.

Industry and Consumer Services director Dave Hillyard, who heads the inspectorate set up to stamp out illegal car dealers, said several more prosecutions were in the pipeline.

Unlicensed car dealing has long been a bane of the motor industry. While there are no figures available on what the trade costs legitimate dealers, several figures in the industry have said it is a major concern.

However, while the industry is happy with the prosecution, it is displeased with the length of time the Government has taken to link WA into the national register of written-off vehicles.

A Department of Planning and Infrastructure spokesman told WA Business News in March that the register would be operating by July.

Robert James Parkinson of Beechboro pleaded guilty in the Court of Petty Sessions to unlicensed motor vehicle dealing and received a $57,700 fine plus $300 in court costs.

Mr Parkinson operated a tow truck operation in Bayswater but moved into buying vehicles from auctions and either reselling them or wrecking them. He bought 43 vehicles from two auction outlets in about eight months.

Consumer Protection Minister John Kobelke said: “It would appear the court took into consideration the fact that even after being interviewed by Consumer Protection officers, Parkinson continued to deal without being licensed”.

Mr Parkinson’s prosecution came as the result of a licensed car dealer who noticed a total of 156 advertisements in the Quokka and 11 in the Sunday Times and tipped off the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection.

Motor Trade Association executive director Peter Fitzpatrick said while the industry welcomed the prosecution it was still going ahead with its plan to use private investigators and its own industry intelligence to gather evidence on illegal dealers. Mr Fitzpatrick said Mr Parkinson’s conviction represented just the beginning of the push against illegal dealers.

“One thing is certain in relation to illegal dealers and that is the problem will not go away unless it remains a priority for government and some direct action is taken by the industry to help itself,” he said.

Mr Hillyard said he had met with the MTA’s investigators.

“We’ve briefed them on the sort of evidence we need to effect a prosecution,” he told WA Business News.

“Just reporting that there’s a vehicle with a for sale sign on it parked on a vacant block of land is not enough.

“We need to be able to prove that the person is making a business out of car dealing.”

The inspectorate had difficulties doing that because it was not allowed to access the DPI’s motor vehicle licence database until earlier this year.

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