Mercedes-Benz Australia’s response to Personal Imports of Motor Vehicles

Melbourne – The announcement by the Federal Government today of planned changes to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 is disappointingly low on detail despite more than two years of intensive discussion.

The CEO of Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific, Mr. Horst von Sanden said “Despite two years of consultation with the industry, the announcement was not accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Statement or any specific detail as to how these planned changes would be implemented. This is not just disappointing, but seems to indicate that the Government actually has no plan for how they will implement the changes. If a plan has been constructed I look forward with much anticipation to reading it as will all stakeholders. The matters that we are very concerned about go to the heart of Consumer protection and the integrity of the New Vehicle market in Australia.“

We have a number of serious concerns over the lack of specific detail and the irresponsibility and misconceptions that the Governments statement and position will create.

Australian Consumer Law currently provides comprehensive protection for automotive consumers when a vehicle is imported to Australia by the OEM. The owner of a privately imported vehicle will have ZERO protection under Australian Consumer Law. The Government explains this better on their own websites.

´”Information for individuals seeking to purchase a vehicle overseas, and subsequent buyers in the Australian used vehicle market, will be made available through the Department’s website, including a recommendation that buyers purchase insurance and/or warranty coverage for repairs and possible safety recalls. “

The requirement of affixing a compliance plate to a vehicle is apparently to be scrapped and replaced with an as yet nonexistent, ill-defined and unfunded Register of Approved Vehicles that will contain the details of all vehicles. Who will control, fund and maintain this register accurately?
The Government talks about a Global regime and Global Standards. Of the 193 Countries in the world only 57 have adopted the so called Global Standards.
The Government says it is not proceeding with allowing second hand cars to be imported yet it claims that a ‘New Car’ can be up to twelve months old and have up to 500km. Nowhere in the world is a car up to 12 months old and with up to 500km’s regarded as new. In the industry this is NOT a new car, it is categorized as a DEMONSTRATOR and is a second hand vehicle.
The Government has not provided a (RIS) Regulatory Impact Statement that would outline the impacts and implications of this significant policy change. Surely the industry and the consumer are entitled to know what the implications of the decision will be and how the Government has reached this decision. The Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet says on its official website:“

A RIS is a document prepared by the department, agency, statutory authority or board responsible for a regulatory policy proposal that formalises and provides evidence of the key steps taken during the development of the proposal, and includes an assessment of the costs and benefits of each option.

Preparation of a RIS ensures that all relevant information is documented, and that the decision-making processes are made explicit and transparent.”

The Government has announced no demonstrable or detailed plans as to how consumers will be protected against buying a stolen, financed or insurance write off vehicle. Currently, any customer vehicle purchased through official channels has guaranteed title against such issues. The considerable and valuable work done by Australia’s National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council will all be diminished by suspect vehicles crossing our borders without compliance plates.
Mercedes-Benz Australia is not frightened of reform, what we are frightened of is the disruption and diminution of one of the rights of Australian consumers which this policy proposal completely and totally disregards. It will create second class consumers when there is no demonstrated need to do so.

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