Import laws cop major shake-up

Private new car imports cleared from 2018

NEW-CAR grey imports will get a greenlight from 2018, a move which has the potential to radically change the way cars are bought and sold in Australia.

Buyers will legally be able to sidestep their local car dealership and privately import any new car, provided it is less than 12 months old and has travelled fewer than 500km.

The vehicle must be built in right-hand drive and comply with Australian Design Rules. Currently only imports from Japan and the UK are deemed to meet these requirements, however other countries may be added later.

To prevent import yards popping up on every street corner, the government will limit individuals to one private import every two years. Import duty of five per cent will still need to be paid, as will the hefty 33 per cent Luxury Car Tax (LCT) for vehicles over $63,184.

The changes are intended to increase consumer competition and reduce the price of vehicles locally following the demise of Australian manufacturing, as well as encouraging people to renew their car more frequently.

The industry response was swift and emphatic, with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) speaking out against the changes on behalf of manufacturers and Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar-Land Rover issuing official statements condemning the move, citing warranty and recall issues as well as the fact any private imports would not be covered under Australian consumer law.

In a less controversial move, the changes would also allow the importation of approved vehicles 25 years or older. Currently the date is set at 1 January, 1989, however this would be replaced with a rolling 25-year limit, while the $12,000 import duty would also be scrapped, opening up a wide selection of modern classic vehicles. M