The Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) has welcomed the Turnbull Government’s decision not to proceed with allowing personal importation of new vehicles from the UK and Japan.

AADA CEO, David Blackhall, said the outcome highlights the careful consideration and hard work by the Minister for Urban Infrastructure, the Hon Paul Fetcher MP, and his dedicated policy team.

“The AADA has been in close consultation with Minister Fletcher since the proposal to allow new car imports was first mooted,” Mr Blackhall said.

“We have sincerely appreciated the Minister’s willingness to engage in productive consultation and to understand the many risks to consumers that such a plan might entail.”

Mr Blackhall said the decision closes the door on a number of fraudulent activities there for the asking.

For example, unsuspecting buyers could be victims of odometer fraud. They might, in good faith, purchase a car in London not knowing its history and certainly not knowing if the odometer reading is correct. They don’t know if the car has been rebirthed and it’s actually far from what they believed they bought.  The risks far outweigh the opportunities.

The opportunities for money laundering would be increased. A plausible scenario is a drug dealer with half a million dollars, undeclared, in his bag. He flies to the UK, connects with known criminals, buys a car with false paperwork, brings the car back to Australia under the Government’s legitimate scheme and sells it for $200,000. He just laundered $300,000!

A third scenario is about syndication that could easily have become a business bonanza. It works this way. Because the Government would have granted every citizen a licence to import a car every two years, not everyone would want to do this.

Enter the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur offers people, say, $1,000 for their import licence and secures enough licences to fund a shipload of cars from Japan then sells them in Australia for a very healthy profit. That kind of practice would do untold damage to the franchise channel.

Minister Fletcher stated that considering the modest benefits of personal import arrangements, including price reductions estimated to be less than two per cent across the market, the benefits do not justify the cost and complexity that would be involved in such a scheme.

The decision is incorporated into a new Road Vehicle Standards Bill that will be introduced into the Parliament before the end of this year, taking effect by 2019.

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