News - General News Government
Parallel imports get the green light
Grey matter: Cars such as Toyota's Sentia could end up on Australian roads following changes to new-car import laws proposed by the federal government.
Federal government proposes changes to laws allowing parallel new-car imports
10 February 2016
AUSTRALIAN consumers will be able to privately import new vehicles come 2018,
under changes to laws proposed by the federal government this morning.
The laws will come into effect from 2018 – after Ford, GM Holden and Toyota
have closed their Australian manufacturing operations – and allow consumers to
buy a car or motorcycle from another country as long as it has “comparable
standards” to Australia's.
Buyers will be restricted to making purchases up to once every two years, per
person, as long as specific requirements are met, according to a government
The countries that consumers can import vehicles from are strictly limited to
right-hand-drive markets, with the government specifying Japan and the United
Kingdom, while adding that other countries could also be included as long as
they meet comparable standards.
The vehicles being imported must be no more than 12 months old and have no more
than 500km on the odometer.
Federal minister for major projects, territories and local government Paul
Fletcher announced the changes, and said that the new laws would offer
consumers more choice once the three car-makers wind up manufacturing
operations by the end of 2017.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Left: Federal minister for major projects,
territories and local government Paul Fletcher.
The changes are aimed at not only offering consumers more choice but also to
reduce prices of new cars.
Questions have been raised in the past two years about the price of new
vehicles in Australia and whether it is cheaper to buy in other countries. This
has been refuted by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) and
car-makers including Mercedes-Benz.
The federal government under then prime minister Tony Abbott reviewed the Motor
Vehicle Standards Act 1989 in 2014 with a view to relaxing the laws around the
importation of parallel or so called 'grey' imports as well as used car imports.
Former assistant minister for infrastructure and regional development Jamie
Briggs proposed the deregulation of new car imports again in April last year,
suggesting changes that now appear in the proposed legislation.
The plan to change used-car import laws was squashed by the Coalition late last
year, a decision praised by industry bodies including the Motor Trades
Association of Australia (MTAA).
Following recommendations in the Harper competition policy review, the
government initially leaned towards relaxing new-car import laws.
Other proposed changes to the Act include allowing people to import rare,
exotic or classic cars that are at least 25 years old under a Register of
Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles.
The $12,000 special duty for vehicles that fall under this register will also
“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,” Mr Fletcher said. “By removing this duty, we will
provide more options for Australian consumers.”
Under the proposed new laws, there will no longer be a requirement to affix an
identification plate to vehicles. Details of the vehicles will instead be kept
on a Register of Approved Vehicles online database, which is accessible by the
public. The government estimates that this will save car-makers about $18
million per year.
In the statement from Mr Fletcher, the government says the new laws save the
automotive industry a total of more than $70 million a year “in lower
regulatory compliance costs”.
Minister Fletcher said legislation to implement the changes to the Act will be
introduced later in the year.