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VICTORIA’S peak automobile body is pressing for changes to state taxation and some regulations governing dealership operations to rebuild the industry before financial protection – such as JobKeeper – ends in September.

The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) said the Victorian government has not been fair to the auto industry and believes that – after years of working with the government to help the economy and the dealers – it is time for the government to “come to the party”.

“We’re looking after the dealers and the automotive industry and there are many issues that the government has to address before September when the JobKeeper ends and we all have to stand up by ourselves,” said VACC CEO Geofff Gwilym.

“There are unprofitable areas needing urgent action by the government, including the removal of the duty on accessories and aftermarket fittings being included in a vehicle’s dutiable value, and a review of the super-luxury stamp duty on vehicle sales.

“These are unprofitable and are relics from the past that were designed to protect the domestic car industry in the 1980s.”

In a recent move that aids dealerships, the VACC has pushed for an extension of the period for which dealers can own vehicles. The extension is yet to be ratified by the Victorian government.

The Victorian government is considering the approach by the VACC and its members that allows dealers to be able to hold demonstrator and service vehicles on their fleet for up to 18 months.

The move is proposed as temporary and is in response to the effects of the COVID-19 on the industry. It extends the ownership period from the previous 12 months.

“The current length of ownership rule is that the demonstrator vehicle needs to be held for no longer than 12 months after it was initially registered in the name of the dealer as a demonstrator vehicle,” Mr Gwilym said.

Geoff Gwilym

“This is now proposed to be temporarily adjusted so that a motor vehicle can be considered as being used solely or primarily as a demonstrator vehicle or a service demonstrator vehicle where it has been held for up to 18 months after it was initially registered in the name of the dealer.

“This temporary 18-month rule will apply for all vehicles registered as a demonstrator vehicle by a dealer between March 1, 2019 and for a service demonstrator vehicle, from July 1, 2019.

“The normal 12-month rule will apply to vehicles registered after this date.”

Mr Gwilym said the 18-month rule is underway but still to be ratified and “there are other issues” such as the 7500km limit on the vehicle during that period which it was still working through. The distance limit is planned to be increased commensurate with the extended time period.

“We have to tidy a few things up but it’s a start,” he said.

“This issue has been going on since March and we have only recently received a response, which has been frustrating for us. We understand the SRO is under pressure, but we all are.”

The VACC has also proposed changes to what it terms “unprofitable areas” that it said need urgent action by the government.

In addition to removing the duty on accessories and  aftermarket fittings being included in a vehicles dutiable value and a review of the super-luxury stamp duty on vehicle sales, it is looking at:

  • Accelerating  the VACC position to allow for a heavily regulated consignment selling  arrangement between dealer and consumer
  • Auditing private-private sales to ensure accuracy of vehicle valuation
  • Allowing for temporary suspension of registration and the subsequent re-roadworthy requirement on dealer trading stock and fleet (such as a rental company) stock.

By Neil Dowling

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