ROAD VEHICLE STANDARDS BILL 2018

It's a pleasure to be speaking on the Road Vehicle Standards Bill 2018 and related bills. I've got to say I thought this bill was going to be non-controversial, and then I walked in on the member for Hughes's contribution. He always finds the capacity to introduce one of his wars into whatever legislation is before the parliament.

Let's talk about vehicles. The bill before the House is about road vehicle standards and updating our system of national regulation. Of course, a whole bunch of this regulation occurs at the state level. The Commonwealth does have a key area of responsibility as well. In response to some of the comments made by the member for Hughes, we have one of the most open vehicle markets in the world. You can buy more brands of automobile in Australia than in just about any other advanced country in the world. In fact, it was one of the things that many of the automotive manufacturers who have now left the country and closed down their operations under this mob here used to complain about: our market is so open that it is difficult, in such a small market, for them to compete with imported vehicles, because you're able to buy just about every brand that is available in any other advanced country around the world.

This package of bills—there are five of them—is designed to replace the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989. It regulates the importation of vehicles into Australia. It's been about 17 years since the legislation was last reviewed. The intent of this regulation is to put in place a more modern and updated framework to ensure that all of our road vehicles and certain road vehicle components provided in Australia meet our safety, antitheft and environmental standards. I think that's something that all Australians would think is a good thing. Nobody wants to buy a lemon. Everyone wants to ensure that there is the minimum legislation necessary that is going to ensure that you have a vehicle that is safe, that is hard to break into and steal, that is easy to trace if it is stolen, and that meets modern environmental standards.

The bills are necessary because a lot of advances have occurred in car manufacturing and technologies over the last two decades. There is also a whole range of new vehicles being imported into the country that weren't even heard of two decades ago—specialty vehicles such as environmental vehicles, mobility vehicles, campervans, cars that are manufactured in only left-hand drive and other sorts of vehicles. In my own electorate there are several car enthusiast groups. Many of them are importing rare vehicles and vintage vehicles from around the world. In fact, one of the best-kept secrets is the best automobile museum in the country—the Motorlife Museum located in West Dapto in my electorate. I encourage all members of this place to take an hour's drive south of Sydney and head to West Dapto and enjoy the Motorlife Museum. It's got some great collections. The Brabham family were very kind in donating a whole bunch of the bequeathed vehicles they had to the Motorlife Museum. In that museum you can find, and can climb all over, some of the first cars that were ever built and distributed in this country.

I turn back to the bills before the House. The existing regime has become cumbersome for businesses and consumers alike. It's why there's bipartisan support for these bills. We understand that it makes good sense for us to update it. It has been adding to the compliance costs for the importers, the wholesalers and the distributors, and, of course, those costs are passed on to consumers. It is estimated that these costs total about $68 million a year. When these bills pass through the House, as I'm certain they will, and through the other place, we'll have a more flexible regulatory regime.

The new road vehicle standards that are part of the legislation replace the physical compliance plates as the marker of the vehicle's suitability for supply in Australia with online publicly searchable databases—the Register of Approved Vehicles and the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles Register. The legislative package includes three bills that deal with the funding of the new scheme. It's paid for on a cost-recovery basis by the final importer or the consumer, if the cost is passed on. The actual charges themselves aren't part of the legislation, but they will be in a disallowable instrument and tabled in the other place. 

The bills also strengthen the regulatory compliance and enforcement regimes. They introduce a new range of enforcement arrangements, including infringement notices, enforceable undertakings and criminal sanctions. They will aid Australia's road safety regime by giving the minister the power to issue a notice for compulsory recalls of road vehicles and road vehicle components where necessary. We have seen this week alone the existing recall on components—passenger and driver airbags have had to be recalled—so this is something which is of keen interest to consumers in my electorate and I understand right throughout the country.

So, with those points, we simply say that the legislation is a lot more bipartisan than the member for Hughes led the House to believe. We think it's common sense. It enjoys the support of the House. If the government were to get on board with Labor's announcements to ensure that the datasets and the technical information which are attached to the vehicles being regulated by this legislation, consumers would save even more money than they would under the legislation which we are currently debating. With these comments, I commend the legislation to the House.