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Revert to national vehicle regs, Victoria urged

On the outer: The Mitsubishi Colt is a victim of Victoria's fast-tracked ESC rules.

New Vic government can expect FCAI to come knocking over ESC disruption

General News logo30 Nov 2010

THE Australian motor industry will seek talks with the new Victorian Coalition government to help avoid a repetition of that state’s go-it-alone vehicle safety regulation that has caused heartburn for manufacturers and upset the national approach to vehicle rules.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) is also likely to ask the new state government to ensure the Victoria-only regulation requiring electronic stability control (ESC) to be fitted to all passenger cars and SUVs built from January 1, 2011, is ‘sunset’ in a timely manner to avoid doubling up with impending new federal rules.

The new Victorian regulation forcing compulsory ESC on passenger cars and SUVs, announced last year, not only disrupted car-makers’ plans for ESC introduction – timed to fit with new federal rules to be phased in from November 2011 – but threw Victoria out of sync with all other states and territories while adding another layer of compliance bureaucracy.

However, the regulation introduced by the previous Victorian Labor government of John Brumby – defeated in a seven per cent swing at the state election last weekend – is unlikely to be repealed by the likely new state transport minister, Terry Mulder, before it comes into force in just four weeks.

The state parliament is expected to sit just once before the end of the year, and that session will be preoccupied with the nuts and bolts of establishing the new government and laying out the legislative program for the new parliament.

80 center imageLeft: FCAI executive director Andrew McKellar.

FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar said Australia’s motor manufacturers continued to harbour concerns about the Victorian legislation.

“While I think there has been a degree of dialogue with VicRoads (the Victorian compliance authority) in the final implementation of regulation, I think at the end of the day it is a second-best outcome,” he said.

“Just because we have a unique regulation in one state, that will mean that inevitably there is going to be an additional burden of red tape that people will have to deal with and, inevitably, it means we are going to have another layer of cost and complexity that brands will have to deal with and will also impact on customers as well.”

Mr McKellar said the FCAI and the industry in general strongly supported the uptake of ESC.

“The industry does see it as a very important and valuable safety technology, but our position remains that we strongly support a national approach and regulation through ADRs (Australian Design Rules),” he said.

“We believe the federal government has gone in the right direction on that issue so we support the new regulation that the federal government has put in place.”

Mr McKellar said that by 2013, when the new federal ESC laws would apply to all vehicles, the separate Victorian regulation would be totally redundant.

“Rather than continue to impose costs on everybody to administer something that has absolutely no impact, it is obviously better that they (the Victorian government) sunset that regulation at that point,” he said.

“In the meantime, it has got to be recognised that there are additional costs there for industry and consumers, and it would be far preferable for Victoria to align itself with what the other states have chosen to do and that is go with the federal regulation.”

Mr McKellar said the industry always wanted to work constructively with the incumbent Victorian government.

“We will be wanting to sit down with ministers there and to work through the overall approach to road safety,” he said.

“The industry wants to strongly get behind the road safety message and we want to ensure we are working co-operatively with the state government in Victoria to achieve improved road safety outcomes.

“Unfortunately, this regulation is an example of something that won’t be really effective and just undermines a national approach.”

In talks with Victorian authorities, the industry managed to have the controversial regulation modified to allow exemptions for cars that were deemed to have an ESC-equipped replacement in the pipeline in 2011.

Also, special compliance labelling, which would have meant separate labels for vehicles sold in Victoria, was dispatched to the trash can.

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