Australia’s Federal Government has ditched plans to allow mainstream private imports of new vehicles from countries like Japan and the UK, announcing a reworked Road Vehicle Standard Bill featuring a series of changes.
Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher, says the decision was made to abandon a parallel import scheme as consumer and safety concerns were not offset by the "modest benefits of the personal import arrangement".
"After further detailed work on implementation arrangements, the Turnbull Government has decided not to proceed with one element of changes proposed earlier, which would have allowed personal importation of new motor vehicles from the United Kingdom and Japan," he said.
"That work has highlighted the cost and complexity of providing appropriate consumer awareness and protection arrangements, including investigation of each vehicle before it was imported to Australia, ensuring consumers were aware that the manufacturer's warranty may not apply in Australia, and establishing systems to deal with a manufacturer's safety recall.”
"It would also have been necessary to ensure that subsequent purchasers of a vehicle, which had been personally imported into Australia as a new vehicle, were aware of this fact - and the consequences of this, such as the manufacturer's warranty not applying."
The changes come as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) steps up its efforts on consumer rights protection for automobile buyers.
Currently vehicles that meet the definition of an ‘enthusiast vehicle’ under the Specialist & Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme (SEVS) are allowed into the country, with the new proposal broadening the criteria while retaining targets for rarity, performance, efficiency and other measures.
Left-hand drive vehicles that do not have an equivalent offered in Australia may be imported, though they must also be converted to right-hand drive for safety reasons with the exception of rare or limited-build vehicles which will be exempt from conversion to protect their collector status. Older LHD drive vehicles will also be exempt.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) welcomed the move, which chief executive Tony Weber describes as "a win for consumers".
“The industry has long held the view that personal imports are not in the interest of consumers, nor of the 236,000 people who are either directly or indirectly employed in the Australian motor industry,” he says.
“Australia already has one of the most competitive motor vehicle markets in the world, delivering world quality vehicles and outstanding value for the consumer.”
“To allow personal imports would have exposed consumers to enormous risks, which the Government’s own analysis has clearly identified.”