Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Fischer concedes on four-wheel drives: thousands of jobs threatened.

Download WordDownload Word





The Hon Simon Crean MP

Shadow Industry and Regional Development Minister

Manager of Opposition Business


6 September 1998





Speaking on the Sunday program today National Party leader Tim Fischer conceded that tax-subsidised imported four-wheel drives were undercutting Australian-made passenger motor vehicles.


He also failed to deny that at least one Australian manufacturer has told the Prime Minister of the damage this is causing the Australian industry.




“But you deny that those vehicles [4WDs] compete with locally produced cars?”




“In some cases obviously they do, but for the constituency…”




“So do you deny that at least one Australian manu facturer has complained to the government about that, and asked specifically that action be taken?”




“Well, we get ... I’m not going to deny that.”


Large parts of the Australian automotive industry, which employs 50,000 workers, are being forced to compete against a flood of imported and taxpayer-subsidised four-wheel drive vehicles, most of which will never leave the bitumen.


These vehicles are imported at a lower tariff rate that ordinary passenger motor vehicles, but they are competing for the same market.


The issue isn’t the market for those who need a four-wheel drive, it’s the tax-advantage being given to imported 4WDs which are being sold as an alternative to Australian-made city-based passenger motor vehicles.


Both the Prime Minister and his Deputy know the problem, they know the threat to Australian automotive jobs, but they have done nothing about it.


Mr Fischer also claimed that people in regional Australia who need a four-wheel drive to go about their daily lives will face a higher charge under Labor.




“But do you deny that people are likely to buy four-wheel drives in preference to a car because they’re cheaper, because the duty is so low?”




“The constituents I’m looking after as a priority choose four-wheel dri ves because they have no choice in terms of the road surfaces they have to u... handle and utilise, and in terms of that I will absolutely defend the five per cent tariff tax that we have on four-wheel drives versus Labor’s twenty per cent tariff tax.”


On ce again, Mr Fischer is wrong.


The constituents that Mr Fischer claims to represent, who “have no choice in terms of the road surfaces”, will not have to pay the higher rate.


Under Labor’s plan, an exemption will apply to people for whom a four-wheel drive is essential to their day-to-day lives.


The only people Mr Fischer is protecting are city drivers who buy a buy a four-wheel drive by choice, not necessity.


Labor’s measure is about ‘treating equals as equals’. We want to end the unintended tax subsidy to city drivers who buy a four-wheel drive as a substitute for an ordinary passenger motor vehicle. This will not effect those who need a four-wheel drive.


Labor will ensure that four-wheel drives bought as a direct substitute for passenger cars, many of which are Australian-made, don’t receive an unfair tax subsidy. But Labor will also ensure that people whose decision is based on need, not choice, don’t have to pay any more than at present.


Further information: Phillip Tardif (02) 6277 4803(w), (0419) 491 166