Tariff cut would give more Australians access to safer cars, new car tech

Elizabeth Barry 8 January 2018 NEWS

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Existing tariffs are driving up the price tag of our safest cars.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Barnaby Joyce has said the push to cut tariffs on imported vehicles, which would make a range of vehicles available in Australia up to $2,000 cheaper, has "merit".

The cuts were proposed by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) and included a removal of the 5% tariff on imported vehicles and the removal of the Luxury Car Tax.

"Australia’s car manufacturing industry has closed and the tariffs and taxes used to protect it over recent decades can no longer be justified," AAA CEO Michael Bradley said.

“Tariffs and taxes will add $5 billion to the price tag of new cars sold over the next four years and retard the fleet renewal needed if we are to make technologies such as Lane Keep Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking commonplace."

In an analysis of the 2015 passenger vehicle fleet by AAA, cars built before 2000 accounted for only 20% of the fleet but were involved in 33% of the fatalities. The rate of fatal crashes for pre-2000 vehicles was four times higher than that of vehicles made post-2011.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has also made moves to encourage Australians to think about the age of the cars they are purchasing and the safety features they have due to recent developments in safety technology. It now displays the year the vehicle was tested along with its corresponding safety rating.

Speaking with ABC radio, Joyce said this new car technology was becoming part-and-parcel of new car models.

"It requires discussions of Cabinet and a discussion of the Expenditure Review Committee, but it's something that I think obviously shows merit," he said.

"As new cars come into play, you're going to see a lot of these safety devices as stock-standard as part of them."

Chief executive of Australia's peak motor industry body, Tony Weber, said the tariff reduction should be seen as an investment in safety and technology.

“Currently around 88% of new vehicles are five-star ANCAP safety rated. However, in direct contrast to that, the current average age of the total vehicle fleet on Australian roads is around 10 years," he said.

“Abolishing the new vehicle tariff would pass on thousands of dollars in price cuts at the showroom, which would make more vehicles with advanced safety features such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance more affordable for the average consumer."

“With Government intervention through tariff reduction, vehicles can play an even larger role in saving lives on our roads.”

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