Dark side of grey im­ports

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Welcome - PAUL POT­TINGER CARS­GUIDE EDI­TOR paul.pot­tinger@cars­guide.com.au

AS men­tioned last week, New Zealand’s a nice place to visit, a fact at­tested by the 640,000plus New Zealan­ders who choose to live in Aus­tralia.

You are, of course, wel­come. What is it you say? Kia ora?

On the other hand New Zealand’s much vaunted prac­tice of mass im­port­ing used cars — so-called grey im­ports — is a cus­tom best kept east of the Tas­man. In view of the re­sponse to last week’s col­umn, this is an is­sue worth clar­i­fy­ing.

When New Zealan­ders had the most wretched fleet of ve­hi­cles out­side the third world, get­ting about in Anglias and Ze­phyrs, grey im­ports were a means of mak­ing mo­tor­ing af­ford­able. New Zealand’s au­to­mo­tive con­di­tions are not ours. Here, where ac­cord­ing to Roy Mor­gan the aver­age worker earns 26.3 per cent more than the equiv­a­lent Kiwi, new car own­er­ship has never been more af­ford­able.

Our govern­ment im­poses tar­iffs and lux­ury ve­hi­cle tax, yet cars — even pres­tige cars — sell at a record rate. In the most pop­u­lar seg­ment, you can get a Hyundai i30, Mazda3 or Ford Fo­cus for less than $21,000 with full fac­tory war­ranty, capped­price ser­vic­ing and le­gal re­course in the event of fail­ure. You have some surety of re­tained value. Most in­com­ing cars are tyred and tuned for lo­cal con­di­tions.

What would you get with a grey im­port of un­cer­tain his­tory flogged by a dealer who is not ac­count­able to the brand whose wares fill his fore­court? Next to none of the above.

Many mis­sives I’ve re­ceived boast of New Zealand’s six­monthly cer­tifi­cate of road wor­thi­ness. None grasp its ne­ces­sity. D’you reckon it might have some­thing to do with the NZ ve­hi­cle fleet be­ing the old­est of any West­ern­ised coun­try?

Here there are more than 60 brands to keep com­pe­ti­tion acute and stan­dards of qual­ity and equip­ment high. Mar­ket pres­sure does not ex­ist on this scale or con­cen­tra­tion else­where.

New Zealand needed used im­ports for the very rea­sons Aus­tralia does not. Yet the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion blithely ad­vo­cates a prac­tice that will di­min­ish the qual­ity of cars on the road, erode se­cu­rity of own­er­ship and de­stroy Aus­tralian-owned businesses. At is­sue is not im­porters of specialist ve­hi­cles who do niche num­bers for en­thu­si­asts. It’s count­less grey Corollas which do not match even the ba­sic spec­i­fi­ca­tion of fac­tory-im­ported cars.

De­spite 54,000 New Zealan­ders leav­ing for Aus­tralia in 2012 alone, econ­o­mists tell us the joint’s ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an up­turn. Great. A coun­try whose fairest city is de­stroyed by nat­u­ral dis­as­ter de­serves all good for­tune.

I don’t oc­cupy an econ­o­mist’s lofty perch. If I did, I wouldn’t be blind to a post grey im­port Aus­tralia in which tens of thou­sands of sub­stan­dard cars blight the streets — nor to un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures swelled by tens of thou­sands “lib­er­ated” from jobs in car re­tail.

New Zealand, by all means send us your best and bright­est. And Rus­sell Crowe if you must. But hold your coun­sel on this is­sue. As any­one us­ing their grey mat­ter can see, the sce­nario for used im­ports is all black for Aus­tralia.

Used and abused: Kiwi ex­port Rus­sell Crowe doesn’t drive a grey im­port

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.