I was reading this article in today’s paper and I thought I would post it up and see what people think about this
The Motor Trade Association aims to tax old cars in the name of safety, writes JILL PENGELLEY.
IF your car has a cassette player or if you need a key to open the boot, it's time to worry. Check the rear-view mirror because the state's motor industry is trying to run old cars off the road.
A 1999 Commodore, a 1998 Mazda MX5 - anything more than 10 years old would be shafted with extra taxes - just for being old.
Motor Trade Association (MTA) of SA executive director John Chapman sees it as a move towards modernising the state's ageing fleet and has put the proposal to the State Government.
An Australian Bureau of Statistics survey finds the average age of passenger vehicles in SA is 11.1 years, which is well ahead of the national average of 9.7 years.
A considerable number are even older, with 26.5 per cent of cars in SA manufactured before 1993.
The MTA wants a more modern, safer and less emissions-intensive fleet.
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There is wide support for that wish but almost none for the association's recommendation that owners of old cars pay more tax.
Mr Chapman argues old vehicles are more likely to be belching smoke and have defects that render them dangerous to other road users.
"Having a vehicle is a privilege, not a right," Mr Chapman says.
"I hear the arguments about social equity but is it OK for someone to drive a vehicle with faulty brakes? "I just don't get that. I'm sorry; there are laws."
He says there have been "rapid improvements" in modern cars in terms of safety equipment and this has been reflected in fewer road injuries and deaths.
SA Council of Social Service executive director Ross Womersley says incentives to change are preferable to "punishments".
"This kind of proposal always disproportionately punishes people who are on low incomes," he says.
"They may be people who are students, migrants, people who move from a two-income household to a single-income.
"There's a group of people in the market who can afford to retire their old vehicle but the group that primarily drives old vehicles will be people who have the least ability to pay."
Mr Womersley suggests the motor trade try developing an affordable fixed-price service package to help those on low incomes keep their cars in basic running order.
Independent MP Bob Such is in favour of modernising the fleet but has been arguing for some time for an inducement, rather than a penalty.
He wants the Federal Government to provide financial incentives for people to upgrade vehicles which are more than 10 years old.
France, Germany and the UK have run such schemes and Mr Such has written to the Federal Treasurer and the Finance Minister suggesting Australia follow suit.
He believes modern safer cars have contributed to slashing the road toll by nearly two thirds in the past 30 years.
However, he says a tax on old cars would amount to a "poor tax" on students and others who could least afford it.
"We offer incentives for saving water, which is good, through rebates on washing machines, but we don't seem to want to offer rebates to save lives on the roads," he says.
More than 550 cars are taken off the state's roads each week because they fail to meet national safety standards but Road Safety Minister Michael O'Brien has previously said there is "no direct correlation" between road deaths and the condition of vehicles.
Police records show 28,981 cars, trucks and motorcycles were defected in the past financial year, compared to 26,008 in the 2007/08 financial year.
This is a jump from the 22,136 vehicles deemed too dangerous to drive in the 12 months to June 2007.
The most common defect is a bald tyre, followed by problems with lights, wipers, rust, faulty steering, fluid leaks, windscreen damage, noisy exhaust and worn brakes.
Owners are required to fix defects and a Transport Department inspection is required before the vehicle can be driven but the Government has no plans to introduce mandatory testing of all cars.
Senior Sergeant Paul Isherwood, of the Major Crash Investigation Branch, says old cars are not inherently risky.
The attitude and condition of the driver counts for more.
The top five risk factors - the "fatal five" as police call them - are speed, drink and drug driving, inattention, failure to wear seatbelts and vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians.
"They're the contributors; otherwise we'd have the fatal six," he says. "Police will try and get any unroadworthy car off the road but just because they're old doesn't mean they're not roadworthy."
The MTA's lobbying document for the coming state election also recommends comprehensive vehicle inspections with pollution and safety testing every time a vehicle changes hands.
Treasurer Kevin Foley has not responded to the whole document but has swiftly ruled out the age tax.
"The Government rejects outright the suggestion by the MTA that it introduce a tax on older cars as a means of encouraging people to buy newer, more fuel efficient cars," he says.
"Such a move would unfairly penalise those unable to afford to trade up, therefore discriminating against the less well-off and younger drivers, in particular, who may not be able to afford a newer vehicle."