The Federal Government has announced a $2.2 million investment into ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program), reaffirming its commitment to the local independent vehicle safety tester for at least the short term.
Infrastructure and regional development assistant minister Jamie Briggs announced the two-year funding boost in Melbourne today.
“The Australian Government is committed to working with organisations like ANCAP to raise awareness of road safety and to reduce death and injury on our roads through safer vehicles, safer roads and safer drivers,” Briggs said.
“With Australian Government support and funding, ANCAP has increased its ratings coverage to 95 per cent of new passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles sold in Australia.”
The announcement is welcome news for ANCAP though does nothing to secure its long-term future, which was cast into doubt earlier this month by industry minister Ian Macfarlane, who questioned its value beyond 2017 when local vehicle production ceases.
“I think that when we don’t make cars in Australia from 2017, we should be looking at whether or not we need our own separate design rules,” Macfarlane told Fairfax Media.
“Especially when the European, or the Japanese, or the American rules are basically in line … and if the cars are coming from there, why do we need it?”
ANCAP chairman Lauchlan McIntosh responded indirectly to this today, insisting the introduction of more and more imported cars to the Australian market meant the continued role of ANCAP as the only independent organisation providing detailed safety comparisons was “essential”.
“It is reassuring to see this new government continue to recognise the significance of safer vehicles and the important, independent role ANCAP plays in vehicle safety through its continued investment in our program,” McIntosh said.
“The commitment to continue at least for a further two years will complement the ongoing commitments from all stakeholders,” he said. “The continuation of federal funding underscores the important role vehicle safety plays in reducing road trauma.
“This funding will see ANCAP enter the next phase of vehicle safety assessment as we recognise the rapid growth of active safety technologies and begin to assess their effectiveness.”
In response to the Macfarlane’s comments from earlier this month, Monash University Accident Research Centre director Prof Mark Stevenson called on the government to continue to support ANCAP.
“The federal government provides a little over $1 million to making sure that new cars coming into this country (not just the ones made here for now) are safe for Australians to drive,” Stevenson wrote.
“It seems a small price to pay to ensure Australians can continue to benefit from travelling in vehicles known to protect them in the unlikely event of a crash and surely not cost-effective if we factor in the healthcare and productivity costs that car accidents cost the national budget each year.”