Mike Stevens | Aug 12, 2010

The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) has taken aim at the Federal Government's proposed Cleaner Car Rebate. CEO David Purchase describing the recently announced Labor proposal as being "more about spin" than anything else.

The Cleaner Car Rebate, announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard last month, would see motorists trading in pre-1995 cars for newer greener cars benefiting from a $2000 rebate.

Forming part of the Federal Government's climate change policy, Ms Gillard said the rebate will help cut vehicle emissions by one million tonnes, with mandatory emissions regulations to be introduced for new cars from 2015.

Mr Purchase said that while VACC supports the removal of old less fuel-efficient vehicles from Australia's roads, he criticised the proposal as being about appearances: "being seen to be doing something for the environment (rather) than actually getting inefficient and unsafe cars off the road".

“If you drive a clunker, chances are you are not financially well off and therefore you are not going to be able to buy a new car, even with a $2,000 rebate.

“And, if you are thinking about buying a new car, chances are that you can afford it, with or without the rebate,” Mr Purchase said.

Echoing comments this week by ANCAP Chair Lachlan McIntosh, Mr Purchase added that the rebate might be "more convincing" if the focus was on both 'green' and 'safe' vehicles.

“Our research shows that about 30 percent of vehicles on Victoria’s roads are unsafe. That figure is too high. It does not matter if a vehicle is new or old; if it is not properly maintained, or not regularly serviced, it is a danger,” Mr Purchase said.

It is a curious position VACC has taken in the lead-up to the Federal election. It has in the past called for "cash for clunkers" schemes to get older unsafe cars off the roads. But what is an election without a bit of politicking by special interest groups?

"The Cleaner Car Rebate was announced without consultation, without warning and without sufficient detail. And because of this, it has caused some confusion among vehicle owners and potential buyers,” Mr Purchase said.

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