Western Australia ran a close second to Tasmania in recording the biggest drop in new car sales in 2011, with local sales falling by 7,961. The Motor Trade Association of WA’s CEO Stephen Moir said despite WA having the strongest economy in the country, something is fundamentally going wrong here.
“WA’s new car sales figures for December 2011 were 3.9% down on the same month last year and overall were 6.8% lower than the previous year,” said Mr Moir.
Mr Moir also added the fact that Western Australians are charged the highest rate of vehicle stamp duty in Australia is a major deterrent to car sales in WA.
“Our stamp duty system in WA is just extraordinary compared to other states. Queensland has a flat rate of 2%, Victoria has a rate of 2.5% for cars under $57,009. In WA we’ve got a sliding scale which means that when you buy a car over $45,001 you’ll be paying 6.5% or almost $3,000.
"The MTA has been actively lobbying the state government to reduce the high level of stamp duty on motor vehicles because it would immediately provide greater stimulus to not just the motor trade industry but the retail sector in general.
“What the government needs to recognise is that while the resource sector makes a lot of money it doesn’t employ that many people. On the other hand, the motor trade industry and retail don’t make a lot of money but do employ a lot of people. So it makes sense for governments to look after and give job security to the largest number of people.”
Mr Moir said that changes in consumer behaviour and job uncertainty saw more West Australians choosing to keep their cars longer and repair them rather than purchase new vehicles.
“Interestingly, a recent Curtin University and CCI WA survey found that less than half of Western Australians expect our local economy to strengthen in 2012, which is well down on the 64% who expected it to improve the year before,” added Mr Moir.
“Sadly, the indications are that despite the economic prosperity the state is currently enjoying because of the resources sector, consumer confidence will continue to decline in 2012. Issues such as the increased cost of living and doing business, the impact of new taxes such as the carbon tax and the ongoing concerns about the financial situation in Europe will continue to dampen consumer confidence here at home.”
Mr Moir said this is precisely why the MTA is calling on the state government to review stamp duty and other Government charges to assist the WA businesses community in staying competitive in a global market place.