People will be able to import their own new cars to Australia under deregulation plans being considered by the Abbott government, but the local industry has warned buyers may not receive basic consumer protections and deregulation may threaten thousands of dealership jobs.
The ABC reports Cabinet will consider removing obstacles for Australians wishing to purchase new vehicles from overseas once the local manufacturing ceases in 2017.
Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs said the government is “not inclined” to do the same for second-hand imports.
“We allow people to purchase all sorts of goods from overseas on the internet,” Briggs told the ABC.
“There seems no reason why we shouldn’t allow people to buy new cars from overseas markets if there’s an opportunity to do so.”
Under the new conditions, Australians would be able to directly purchase new vehicles from overseas dealers, as long as the cars met global design and safety standards.
While market deregulation may lead to a reduction in the cost of imported vehicles, Briggs warned there were “big risks” for consumers, such as not obtaining new car warranty, but said he didn’t think they were “insurmountable hurdles” and that “the market would create products which would cover that situation”.
The Productivity Commission and Harper Competition Policy Review both called for a loosening of restrictions on used car imports but Briggs said Australian dealers would continue to play a vital role and the second-hand market was unlikely to be deregulated.
“We don’t see there’s an issue in that segment of the market, last year there were 4 million used car sales across the country,” he said.
The decision to consider deregulation follows a second round of public consultation. A formal decision is expected by the end of the year.