The Federal Government has said that proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 announced today, will give more choice for car buyers and save industry over $70 million a year in lower regulatory compliance costs.


The car industry is tipped to fight the proposals on the grounds it won’t lead to more affordable cars for the wider public and potentially risk the jobs of dealership staff employed across the country.


The office for Paul Fletcher, the federal minister for major projects and infrastructure proposed today that from 2018, a consumer will be able to personally import a new car or motor cycle from another country with comparable standards to Australia’s, up to once every two years, if specific conditions are met.


“Over one million new vehicles are sold in Australia today; over 90 per cent are imported and within two years all cars will be imported once Ford, General Motors and Toyota cease local manufacture”, Minister for Major Projects Paul Fletcher said today.


“With around 30,000 vehicles a year expected to be personally imported, most Australians will continue to purchase vehicles directly imported by manufacturers and sold through their existing dealer networks.


“These new arrangements however will offer consumers greater choice.  If a manufacturer chooses not to sell a particular model in Australia, a consumer may now have an option to source this model overseas.”


Proposed changes are also geared towards improving the existing arrangements for importing exotic, rare, classic, collectible and special purpose vehicles.


The new rule will allow a vehicle which is at least 25 years old to be imported under the new arrangements.


For newer vehicles, the Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles will be revamped, and quotas on the number of vehicles that can be imported by each Registered Automotive Workshop will be removed.


$12,000 special duty on imported used vehicles to go


The Government has also vowed to amend the Customs Tariff Act 1995 to remove the $12 000 special duty on imported used vehicles from 2018.


“Although this duty is not often applied, it is on the statute books, costing more to administer than it raises – and is seen by consumers as a hurdle to importing second hand cars even in the specific circumstances where such imports are permitted.  By removing this duty, we will provide more options for Australian consumers,” Mr Fletcher said.


Proposed changes aim to lower regulatory compliance costs associated with the Motor Vehicles Standards Act and to align Australian rules more closely with international vehicle standards.