Australian motorists losers in used Japanese car ban, says expert

Claims that allowing used Japanese cars into Australia would have reduced road safety are simply nonsense, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who has extensively studied the New Zealand experience with used imports, says:

“Used Japanese imports were the best thing that ever happened to the New Zealand consumer.”

“In the late 1980s, New Zealanders went from driving rusty old death-traps to driving relatively modern cars. Now, with about half the New Zealand fleet coming second hand from Japan, New Zealanders wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Matthew-Wilson, whose road safety research was awarded by the Australian Police Journal, says the safety argument is simply a smokescreen.

“The argument that used imports would reduce safety is simply nonsense. The government merely needed to require that used imports met modern safety standards. It would have been that simple. The cheap and nasty used imports would never have been sent to Australia anyway – they tend to be sent to places like Russia and Africa, where buyers are more worried about price.”

“Not all Japanese imports would have been cheaper: there are already some used car bargains in Australia. However, overall, the consumer would have undoubtedly benefited due to increased competition.”

Matthew-Wilson says the government was keen to protect its friends in the car industry.

“Japanese imports would probably have lowered the price of Australian used cars by about 10–30%. The established car industry doesn’t want that to happen, so they lobbied the government heavily to reject the findings of the Productivity Commission. The winners here are the established car companies. The losers are the Australian consumers.”