Motor Vehicle Standards Overhaul - The Road Vehicle Standards Bill 2018

Monday 12 February 2018 @ 8.22 a.m. | Trade & Commerce

On Wednesday (7 February 2018) the Road Vehicle Standards Bill 2018 (the Bill) was introduced into the House of Representatives by the Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, Mr Fletcher. The Bill is part of a package of Bills intended by the Federal Government to replace the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (Cth) (the MVSA). The Bills aim to implement the government’s previously announced reforms to the regulatory framework for the safety, environmental and anti-theft performance of all road vehicles being provided to the Australian market for the first time – both new and used vehicles. The government says its reforms will deliver "modernised legislation to increase community safety and remove unnecessary processes for businesses."

The proposed legislation package is made up of the following Bills:

  • Road Vehicle Standards Bill 2018
  • Road Vehicle Standards (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018
  • Road Vehicle Standards Charges (Imposition - Customs) Bill 2018
  • Road Vehicle Standards Charges (Imposition - Excise) Bill 2018.

General Background

The MVSA is the legislation which currently controls the safety, environmental and anti-theft performance of all new and used road vehicles entering the Australian market for the first time. Since previous reviews of the MVSA 17 years ago, significant changes have taken place in both the global and domestic automobile markets along with improvements in vehicle technologies.

The Government undertook a comprehensive review of the MVSA in 2014, which also involved significant public consultation over a three year period. The result of the review, which was based on submissions to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, was an indication that the MVSA was in need of "renewal and modernisation" so that it "aligned with the local and international market needs".

Key Changes - Overview

Apart from the key focus of of strengthening and modernising the legislation the government indicates that the reforms are expected to save industry up to $70 million a year by delivering lower regulatory compliance costs and further harmonising Australia’s vehicle standards with global standards.

Some of the other key changes proposed include:

  • the improvement of consumer access to imported specialist and enthusiast vehicles;
  • simplification of the process for importing vehicles through the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS) while improving the quality assurance of those vehicles;
  • simplification of the pathways for importing vehicles granted concessions against national vehicle standards;
  • streamlining the supply of mainstream (full volume) new vehicles;
  • strengthening compliance and enforcement powers of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development;
  • enhancing and replacing IT systems utilised to support administration under MVSA; and
  • making clearer the suppliers’ recall responsibilities for all vehicles.

The Customs Tariff Act 1995 (Cth) is also amended to remove the $12,000 special duty on imported used vehicles, from 2018.

Reaction to the Legislation

Overall the proposed changes appear to please the motoring media, with most of the initial public reaction coming from car enthusiasts around the potential to now be able to import "the world’s fastest, rarest and most expensive supercars - previously banned because they’re made only in left-hand-drive ..."

Also favourably looked on has been has been the strengthening of recall powers:

"The biggest changes to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act in 30 years will also see car companies and 'vehicle providers' fined between $210,000 and $1.1 million if they sell a car that has not had compulsory safety recall work completed."

Measures that will see "dodgy sellers" fined up to $63,000 or face 12 months jail for tampering with car odometers or providing false information or documentation, have also gone down well, as has the closing of a loophole, reported to have been used by car dealers to import second-hand vans from Japan under the guise of converting them into campers, without ever intending to do so.


The Bill is expected to be debated and passed by the Parliament in 2018 and will commence 12 months after the passage and enactment of the legislation. The Consequential and Transitional Provisions Bill provides for a 12 month transitional period after commencement to allow businesses to adapt to the new arrangements and during the transitional period some aspects of the MVSA will continue,
particularly for RAWs and Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles frameworks.

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.


Road Vehicle Standards (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018 [CTH]
Road Vehicle Standards Bill 2018 [CTH] [Principal Bill]
Road Vehicle Standards Charges (Imposition - Customs) Bill 2018 [CTH] [Principal Bill]
Road Vehicle Standards Charges (Imposition - Excise) Bill 2018 [CTH]
and supporting materials as available from the TimeBase LawOne Service 

Road Vehicle Standards Bill 2017 - Overview  (Cth Dept of Infrastructure and Regional Development)

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