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Thursday, 27 May 2010
Page: 4470

Mr PYNE (9:30 AM) —I rise this morning to speak on the LPG Vehicle Scheme and to express the concerns of constituents in my electorate over the current eligibility criteria. While much of these criteria are good policy brought about by the previous government, there is one part of the eligibility criteria that I believe does not reflect the purpose of the program. I recall that the LPG Vehicle Scheme was established under the previous government in August 2006. Its purpose is to encourage the uptake of LPG fuel through offering a grant to those who convert or purchase an LPG vehicle. This grant supports families and individuals to convert to LPG fuel. There are two categories of the program. The first provides incentives to convert already registered vehicles to LPG. The second, which forms the topic of my address today, relates to the purchase of new vehicles fitted with an LPG unit before their first registration.

Naturally, to the objective person, the intention of the second category implies an incentive for people to buy a new vehicle fitted with LPG. When one walks into a motor vehicle showroom to purchase a new vehicle they are presented with a choice of whether to buy or not to buy a vehicle fitted with an LPG unit. The LPG Vehicle Scheme appears to be a success in encouraging people to buy new LPG equipped vehicles. In the VACC submission to the Review of the Australian Automotive Industry—with which Madam Deputy Speaker would be well familiar—it was stated that sales of LPG passenger vehicles jumped by 52 per cent in the first year of the program. Even higher were sales of LPG light commercial vehicles, which jumped a staggering 93.6 per cent. A vehicle that has been used as a demonstration vehicle is, for all intents and purposes, a new vehicle. If it looks like a new vehicle, smells like a new vehicle, sounds like a new vehicle and acts like a new vehicle, fair chance is it is probably a new vehicle, yet the government refuses to allow ex-demonstrator vehicles to meet the eligibility criteria.

As there is no conversion to LPG, those who purchase an LPG-ready ex-demonstrator vehicle cannot claim the grant for conversion. The astounding thing is that they also cannot claim the grant as a new vehicle because the dealer was the first registered owner of the vehicle and not the purchaser. Effectively, there is no incentive for individuals to purchase a new vehicle, despite the government boasting about increasing the scheme by $10½ million for that precise purpose. The message from the Rudd government is that if you purchase a new ex-demonstrator vehicle you are on your own.

A constituent in my electorate is the purchaser of an ex-demonstrator vehicle and contacted me with their concerns. I wrote to the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Carr, requesting the government consider updating these criteria to reflect the clear inconsistency with this policy. Rather than getting a sensible answer from the senator either undertaking to consider reforms to the policy or justifying it in its current form, I got a response that simply recites the current policy. I look forward to the government waking up to this clear inconsistency in policy for the benefit of my constituent—and constituents right around Australia—considering purchasing an ex-demonstrator vehicle.