The Government’s decision to allow parallel imports met with immediate opposition, not just from Dealers but also the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) and Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon.

In a Canberra media conference with FCAI Chief Executive, Tony Weber, AADA CEO, Bruce McDonald, and VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, Senator Xenophon urged the Government to scrap the revised policy.

The decision will allow a flood of imported vehicles into the country, which Senator Xenophon sees as a dramatic loosening of current safeguards in relation to vehicles being privately imported.

“Anyone who privately imports a vehicle under these new proposed rules will be playing ‘unlucky dip’ because they won’t know what they will be getting and the warranties consumers get now won’t apply,” he said.

“It will also undermine the jobs and Dealer networks that have cost billions to establish and could end up costing the rest of us more as those economies of scale are undermined.”

Senator Xenophon also highlighted the reason given by the Government for the import rules to be relaxed – the impending closure of local auto manufacturing – as being inconsistent with the Government’s recent announcements to support a proposal by Punch Corporation to keep making cars in Australia.

“This move is in the opposite direction and crashing head-on with the Government’s support for reviving auto-making in Australia,” he said.

“The Government can’t have it both ways on this. Slackening the rules on parallel imports will make it harder for a local car-making industry to be revived post-2017.”

Mr Weber said the FCAI was “extremely disappointed” in the announcement, saying the policy decision would mislead consumers.

“Not only is the Government taking a ‘buyer beware’ sentiment that would see many Australians caught in high-risk situations, with their vehicles being outside established service networks, the Government is misleading consumers by telling them a used vehicle with 500km or one that is 12 months old is new,” he said.

Mr Weber said Australian Consumer Law currently offered consumers the highest possible level of protection when it comes to purchasing a new motor vehicle through an Australian Dealership, but would not be able to offer the same protection with parallel imports.

“Brands selling in this country make substantial investments in Australia by way of Dealerships, workshops, technology and training to support and service their products.

“This means consumers can be certain their vehicles can be serviced and repaired appropriately, and that recalls are captured so consumers are informed if something needs to be fixed.

“The Government failed to acknowledge that Australians who personally import a vehicle made for another country may end up with a vehicle that does not meet their needs or operate as required in Australian driving conditions.”

Mr Weber said the FCAI had, over the past two years, urged the Government to investigate the implications the proposal would have on not just Australian consumers, but also on border security and quarantine, automotive Dealers, service and repair networks, future intelligent transport and communications systems, and on the automotive brands that invest in the tools, training and technicians available in this county to service a modern motor vehicle.

“The industry supports the closer harmonisation of ADRs with international standards, and the industry has been working with the Government on this for a long time. But the reality is that there are only a few standards that are still different and we ask the Government to commit more resources to hasten their completion,” he said.

“The best way to continue to deliver a greater range of choice in new cars and motorcycles is to accelerate the removal of unique regulatory standards and administration.”

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