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Road Vehicle Standards Act passed

Import overhaul: The Road Vehicle Standards Act will supplant the Motor Vehicle Standards Act and give the government more power to penalise companies who do not comply with safety recalls.

New automotive regulatory laws passed to replace Motor Vehicle Standards Act

29 Nov 2018

THE federal government passed the Road Vehicle Standards Act (RVSA) with bipartisan support yesterday, replacing the dated Motor Vehicle Standards Act (MVSA) of 1989 as Australia’s primary legislation for regulating road vehicles.
Under the new legislation, vehicles deemed fit to import to Australia will be entered in a Register of Approved Vehicles database if they comply with national road standards, while a separate Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme (SEVs) list will be maintained for low-volume, specialised automobiles.
Both databases will be publicly accessible online.
The new act also empowers the government to impose strict penalties for those who do not comply with standards, while vehicle and component recalls will also be enforced with “very substantial criminal and civil penalties”.
As previously reported, the proposal originally had plans to allow parallel vehicle imports from the United Kingdom and Japan, but was quickly dismissed due to complexity.
While the RVSA has passed, its full effects will not be enforced until 2020 as most MVSA approval holders are able to continue importing vehicles during the transitional two-year period.
Deputy prime minister and minster for infrastructure, transport and regional development Michael McCormack said “these new laws are common sense changes” that will pave the way forward for Australia’s automotive industry.
“We wanted to update and simplify the regulatory system so it is flexible and responsive to support the future of road vehicles in Australia, particularly as advances in technology change how and what we drive,” he said.
“This has been achieved after five years of work and consultation with industry … it is the culmination of much hard work, which is yet another step to help get Australians home sooner and safer, no matter where they live.”
Many automotive bodies were quick to praise the federal government for passing the act, with Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Tony Weber saying the RVSA will give Australians access to the same automotive safety systems as the rest of the world. 
“The new act will ensure that Australians have access to new vehicles with state-of-the-art safety technology in a similar timeframe to the rest of the world,” he said.
“We will work with the government in the development of enabling rules to ensure that the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme (SEVs) meets its intent of providing unique vehicles without creating a ‘de-facto’ broad used import vehicle scheme.”
Australian Automotive Dealer Association CEO David Blackhall echoed Mr Weber’s concern over vehicle eligibility under SEVs, saying the body will work to ensure the scheme is not taken advantage of.
“Following the passage of the bill, the AADA will now focus on supporting the development of the underlying regulations to make sure that greater numbers of grey imports do not come into Australia,” he said.
“Expanding the number of used cars coming into Australia is not in the public interest and we will be seeking assurances that the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme does not allow used car imports to come in via a backdoor channel.
“The SEVs offers imported vehicles concessions against national vehicle standards and should be used for vehicles which are truly specialist and enthusiast in nature rather than used mainstream cars.
“There are real concerns around provenance and safety of imported used car vehicles, which have been sharply highlighted recently by the Takata airbag recall.”
Meanwhile, Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) chief executive James Goodwin said the new RVSA will be a boon for vehicle safety.
“We are seeing enormous changes in the automotive industry so it is important our regulatory measures reflect the vehicles coming off the production line today and in the future,” he said.
“The regulatory provisions within the new legislation will also assist with the early introduction of new, safer vehicle technologies.
“The online Register of Approved Vehicles, effectively replacing the need for Identification Plates, will improve the transparency and enforceability of the process for the supply of new and used vehicles.
“We also welcome the improved clarity provided for the recall and rectification of defective vehicles, which will improve the safety of road users throughout the life of the vehicle.”

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