Let’s not take the Kiwi route
IT’S easy to make fun of New Zealand but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Take Auckland. Bit like the Gold Coast in the 1970s. Nice enough place but you wouldn’t want to live there. Not really. Nor indeed do great numbers of its native-born.
Like hundreds of thousands of their compatriots they live here and express gratitude to their host country by donning black jerseys and painting vegetation on their faces come the Bledisloe Cup.
No, you really wouldn’t want to live there. Nor would you want to drive what they drive.
I refer to grey imports, the used crappers of dubious provenance that foul the streets of its largest settlement. There a few weeks ago I was able to pass a long drive by spotting, say, the ancient Toyota-badged Lexus or Jurassic Nissan — devices deemed unworthy of official import but which are bought in used and cheaply by importers out to make a quick buck (or head of livestock or bundle of blankets — whatever barter Kiwis are reduced to).
Are you happy to put your family in a car whose history cannot be proven, for which there is no manufacturer support, that might have been reassembled after a smash and may not conform to the latest safety and emission standards? Knock yourself out. Just don’t drive near me or mine.
This is not to impugn reputable grey import dealers who bring in niche volumes of otherwise unobtainable cars for discerning buyers. No, this is to deplore the notion of our country becoming a dumping ground for clunkers by the unscrupulous — a scenario that the Productivity Commission’s economically fundamentalist proposal to lift grey import curbs makes all too possible.
This practice flies in New Zealand because — and there’s no gentle way of saying this — the joint’s closer to the third world than the first.
Possibly the Productivity Commission does not wish to hear the perspective of an expert like Paul Gover who remembers the era before regulations were tightened and says: “There’ll be nothing to stop anyone bringing in 20 knackered HiLuxes, setting up a tent behind a Toyota dealer and flogging them cheap. Do we really need to lose more jobs?”
Much bad noise has been made by a David Vinsen, who rejoices in the title “chief executive of New Zealand’s Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association”.
Ignoring this gentleman’s claim that mass grey importing would create jobs (in the rebirthing industry perhaps?), he states cars in his country have become more affordable and “safer”.
Unmentioned is the average age of NZ’s local car fleet — more than 13 years compared with10 in 1992.
Almost half the cars Kiwis imported from Japan last year were used. By contrast, new cars in this country are already among the world’s most affordable and safe. For secondhand buyers, this is paradise.
Don’t let’s become the butt of our own Kiwi joke.