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Thursday, 24 June 1999
Page: 7532


Mr LINDSAY (12:27 PM) —I would like to speak to you this afternoon about car theft. Car theft is a multimillion dollar industry, but it is something that does not have to happen. It does not have to happen in towns like Townsville or Thuringowa or Coffs Harbour or Ipswich. I have been alarmed at the increase in the incidence of car theft across the Commonwealth and particularly in my electorate in Townsville.

I believe that the solution is very simple and very inexpensive, and that is to fit an engine immobiliser. Jim Cathcart from Geoff Pickering Motors in Townsville tells me that you can get one for about $100. But this afternoon I would like to suggest going a little further: vehicle insurance companies should offer you a reduction in your premium if you fit one of these immobilisers. At the moment, with 16,500 vehicles being stolen in Queensland every year, all of us who have vehicle insurance premiums are paying for the cost of the damage that is being done to those vehicles.

It is generally young people who take the vehicles. They take them for two purposes. One is the joy-ride syndrome and the other is that they will take the cars to strip and sell them. Either way, most of the cars taken end up being totally written-off by the insurance companies. The cost of that total write-off is what we all pay for in our vehicle insurance premiums.

It does not have to be, and that is the point that I make to the Main Committee this afternoon. We should have a mechanism in place where Australian insurance companies could recognise that, if a customer fitted an immobiliser, that person would get a reduction in premium because that car would not get stolen. I think that would be a proper reward and concession for those responsible vehicle owners in the community.

There is, of course, a range of products that you can fit. You can get products worth up to $1,000 to prevent car thefts, but it really is not necessary; a $100 version does the job just the same. Sergeant Ron Reid from the Townsville police is also urging motorists to have their vehicles installed with anti-theft devices. Once entry is gained, usually the vehicle is taken away and basically trashed and dumped. Certainly I am aware from my contacts with the insurance company that the insurance loss assessors are just appalled at what these young people do to the cars when they get hold of them.

In Townsville, if you own a Holden Commodore, particularly the VN Commodore, you are the most likely person to be hit. This information was released by the Townsville police. Probably 50 per cent of all vehicles stolen are VN Commodores, because they are so easy to hot-wire, so easy to take away. In fact, to inject a bit of levity, an insurance loss adjustor told me that, if you did not want to get your vehicle stolen in a shopping centre car park, you should park your car next to a VN Commodore. That would solve your problem because the thieves or the joy-riders always go for the other vehicle first.

Police have been so concerned in Townsville that they have sent letters to the owners of all VN Commodores in the city, indicating to them the danger that they face—and this is not something just to get at Holden. There are other areas where other manufacturers have problems. I think we have just got to recognise the facts of the matter.

My point is that we do not need to have cars stolen. For a small fee of about $100, you can get an engine immobiliser fitted. My plea to the insurance companies of Australia is to bring in a mechanism whereby there will be a credit given on your insurance policy if you do, in fact, have one of these engine immobilisers fitted.