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Government’s timetable changes phase industry

23 April 2013

Government’s timetable changes phase industry

Government’s announcement today that changes to WoF frequency could be phased in earlier than originally signalled is misleading. Though giving the appearance of assisting industry, the proposed changes actually mean a significant reduction in both business activity for industry and vehicle safety levels, says the Motor Trade Association (MTA).

NZ Transport Agency’s (NZTA) draft rules released today propose phasing in 12 month WoFs for some vehicles from October 2013. At the time the initial changes were announced in late February, the introduction date was set for ‘1 July 2014 or possibly earlier’. To find that changes are to start around nine months earlier comes as a shock to industry; the most helpful thing that could be done is to stick with the original target date of July 2014, MTA spokesperson Ian Stronach says.

“Government says it is offering these changes to help smooth out the sudden reduction in business that will result from the new WoF frequency regime. Far from providing any real workable assistance to industry, these changes essentially just bring forward the date of introduction and with it the loss of work for the industry. It won’t help industry, but it will allow government to showcase an apparent cost-saving to the electorate before next year’s election,” Stronach says.

Widespread confusion and mixed messages
Feedback from both industry participants and members of the public indicates that many people are already confused about what the changes involve. When introduced earlier this year, changes to the WoF regime were regularly misreported, leading many to think they applied to all vehicles 13 years and younger. Many industry participants and consumers alike have not understood that the changes will apply to vehicles around a date that is fixed in time: all cars first registered after 1 January 2000 will only need a 12 monthly WoF. Bringing forward the introduction of 12 month WoF’s for 2004 to 2008 vehicles to October 2013, then in April 2014 introducing the same regime for 2000 to 2003 vehicles is likely to lead to more confusion.

Enforce existing consumer regulation
While government has long claimed that the changes were designed to benefit consumers, existing regulation around WoF could achieve this – if it was properly enforced. The 2002 Land Transport Rule relating to Vehicle Standards (Clause 9.12) provides that unless the buyer agrees in writing to take the vehicle without a new WoF (the ‘as is, where is’ provision), any vehicle sold, by a dealer or private seller, must have a WoF less than one month old on it. MTA questions why government is creating new regulation while not enforcing existing regulation that would provide for greater consumer protection.

At a time when government’s own Safer Journey’s programme has identified the need for safer vehicles, the changes to WoF frequency are at odds with its overall vision for a safer system. New Zealand currently has an inspection system that identifies the majority of faults in vehicles before they become a factor in vehicle accidents; it remains hard to see why they would want to change that environment, Stronach says.

ENDS

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