A grey area

Herald Sun - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE CONFIDENTIAL - Twit­ter: @JoshuaDowl­ing

THE fed­eral govern­ment was con­grat­u­lat­ing it­self this week af­ter re-an­nounc­ing a plan to al­low pri­vate buy­ers to im­port new cars. This will not de­liver cheaper cars for the masses, de­spite the govern­ment’s claim.

The only peo­ple with a chance to ben­e­fit from this scheme are the su­per-rich, be­cause the sav­ings only make sense on ve­hi­cles cost­ing $200,000-plus.

In­de­pen­dent com­par­isons by Carsguide show the cost of Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar cars such as the Toy­ota Corolla and Mazda3 — both of which start at about $22,000 and are the same price they were in Aus­tralia 20 years ago — are on par with the US and cheaper than Europe once taxes, cur­rency ex­change rates and dif­fer­ences in stan­dard equip­ment are cal­cu­lated.

But a sig­nif­i­cant price gap emerges on ve­hi­cles above Aus­tralia’s $63,184 Lux­ury Car Tax thresh­old, which adds 33 per cent to the cost of ve­hi­cles above this amount.

Pri­vate im­port­ing would per­mit buy­ers to bring in only one car ev­ery two years.

This scarcely guards against dam­aged and re­paired ve­hi­cles head­ing here. I’m sure Bri­tish deal­ers are rub­bing their hands at the prospect of of­fload­ing un­wanted mod­els.

Th­ese even­tu­ally will be­come used cars. Does the govern­ment ex­pect used car buy­ers to log on to an ob­scure web­site to check whether the prospec­tive pur­chase was a pri­vate im­port?

What about the jobs at the 4000 deal­er­ships in Aus­tralia? Will deal­ers con­tinue to in­vest in premises and new staff when they have an un­cer­tain fu­ture?

If the govern­ment wants to make cars cheaper for rich buy­ers, why not just ditch the LCT? This could be done with the stroke of a pen but would re­sult in a $500 mil­lion-plus bud­get hole to fill each year.

Toy­ota Corolla: Pri­vate im­port won’t be cheaper than its $22K

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