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Australia proposes new rule letting in all 25-year-old cars

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Photo courtesy FCA.

Under existing law, the Dodge Viper above – along with any car manufactured after 1988 – has a snowball’s chance of making its way to Australia and remaining there, but a set of rule changes proposed for the island continent nation could soon change that.

When it was approved in 1989, Australia’s Motor Vehicle Standards Act prohibited individuals from importing into Australia any vehicle made after January 1, 1989, a date that the law left fixed in stone and that remained fixed even after the country updated the law in 2000.

Yet with local manufacture of automobiles by Holden, Ford of Australia, and Toyota coming to an end by 2018, Australia’s government last week proposed a set of reforms to the MVSA intended to make it easier for Australians to import both new and older vehicles.

“The law will be changed so that, from 2018, a consumer will be able to personally import a new car or motorcycle from another country with comparable standards to Australia’s,” according to a press release from the office of Paul Fletcher, minister for major projects. “These new arrangements … will offer consumers greater choice. If a manufacturer chooses not to sell a particular model in Australia, a consumer may now have an option to source this model overseas.”

In addition, the reforms scrap the January 1989 fixed date and replaces it with a rolling 25-year admission rule, similar to the one in place in the United States. Fletcher’s press release notes that keeping the fixed date would have steadily reduced the pool of older cars available to import into Australia.

Any older vehicle allowed into Australia under the reformed rules would still need to pass state and territory requirements, the proposal notes. At least five of Australia’s eight states and territories allow left-hand-drive vehicles if they’re more than 30 years old, while the Northern Territory allows left-hand-drive vehicles of all ages.

New vehicles allowed into Australia under the new rules would still have to come from a right-hand-drive country – the United Kingdom and Japan were specifically mentioned – and meet Australia’s existing safety and emissions standards. Australia’s government estimated that the reforms will reduce the AUS $280 million that Australians spend annually to meet current MVSA regulations by about AUS $70 million.

The reformed rules have yet to be introduced into Australia’s parliament and won’t take effect until a year after the parliament passes them, presumably right around the time local manufacture ends in Australia.