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Safety authority ANCAP in doubt post-2017: report

Safe bet: The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) could face closure if the federal government goes ahead with mooted budget cuts.

ANCAP could face funding trouble if federal government comments come to fruition

General News logo9 Apr 2014

THE federal government is reportedly considering its stance on funding for the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) following the end of local automotive manufacturing in 2017.

Speaking to Fairfax, industry minister Ian Macfarlane questioned whether there was a need for an Australian crash test system beyond Ford, Holden and Toyota shutting their respective local manufacturing operations in a few years time.

“I think that when we don't make cars in Australia from 2017, we should be looking at whether or not we need our own separate design rules,” he said.

“Especially when the European, or the Japanese, or the American rules are basically in line … and if the cars are coming from there, why do we need it.”

ANCAP communications manager Rhianne Robson told GoAuto that the independent authority would not comment on the report until the Coalition hands down its first budget on May 13.

“At this point we don’t have anything to say,” she said, before pointing out that deputy prime minister Warren Truss has overarching responsibility for the federal road safety portfolio, not industry minister Ian Macfarlane as suggested in the original article.

If ANCAP’s government funding is cut, it is unclear whether vehicles imported to Australia would be tested in their country of origin or if the department of infrastructure which oversees the Australian Design Rules would take a greater role in monitoring the crash safety of new vehicles.

The safety rating system began in Australia in 1993 and to date more than 400 vehicles have been given a star rating. Ratings range from one to five stars, with the ANCAP recommending consumers only buy five-star rated vehicles.

The Australian car buying public has built up trust in the ANCAP system over the years, with a number of car-makers highlighting a five-star crash safety rating in promoting new models.

Australia’s crash safety rating system differs slightly to the European NCAP program. In addition, vehicles sold in this country are subject to different design regulations and may carry different specifications to models sold internationally.

In some of its recent tests, ANCAP criticised Indian brand Tata for the poor two-star result of its Xenon utility in March, while the new-generation Mazda3 scored five stars back in February.

A number of countries and regions have their own vehicle safety rating program, including the United States, Europe, Latin America, South-East Asia, Japan, Korea and China.

While the Australian federal government currently funds half of ANCAP’s annual budget, other partners include the New Zealand government, various state and territory governments, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission and state automobile clubs.

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