War of words over car plan

Last month, the Federal Government agreed to consider options to reduce restrictions on the personal importation of new vehicles.

On Perth radio late last month, Ms McTiernan said the proposal would undermine the Australian car dealership industry, including apprentice training and protections for consumers importing cars from overseas.

But Mr Irons said the government did not anticipate a mass movement away from Australian car dealers if the policy proceeded.

�The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association has welcomed the government�s proposed changes, with executive director Stuart Charity stating the changes would �generate a new avenue of business for the Australian auto aftermarket as consumers� service and customise their new imports�,� Mr Irons said.

Ms McTiernan said Australian dealerships invested a substantial amount of money in maintenance and the training of apprentices.

�Who is actually going to be training apprentices?� she asked.

�Under our current structure, as part of your package with dealers, you get a warranty, and you go back to that dealer and they have guaranteed a whole range of maintenance work.

�As a consequence they employ a very significant percentage of automotive apprentices.�

She said when vehicles were imported by Australian dealers, they were modified for Australian conditions.

�There is a real issue here about proper consumer protection and consumer awareness about the different capabilities of these vehicles,� she said.