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Fuel economy and pollution ratings for new cars to be put to the test in australia for the first time

THE fuel economy and pollution levels of some of Australia’s most popular new cars are about to be put to an unprecedented real-world test.

Following the Volkswagen Group scandal that saw 11 million vehicles recalled globally because they had software that could cheat laboratory tests, Australias peak motoring body has announced that from next year it will start testing cars on local roads.

The Australian Automobile Association the peak body representing motoring clubs such as the NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, and represents almost 8 million motorists will test 30 new cars sold locally over an 18 month period.

The initial list of 30 vehicles is yet to be determined but it will include petrol and diesel models.

The tests will mirror those being conducted by similar bodies overseas, but the AAA will prioritise models sold here but not overseas.

To date during initial overseas tests, no other brand has been found to have used cheating software.

However, the AAA says it is vital that car buyers can believe the fuel economy and pollution ratings on the showroom labels.

The announcement comes ahead of the Federal Government forum on vehicle emissions being hosted in Sydney on Monday afternoon by ministers Paul Fletcher, Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt.

Michael Bradley, the chief executive of the AAA, said the organisation is very concerned that the government currently has no capacity to test, audit, or enforce elements of its current vehicle emissions regulatory regime.

Mr Bradley said the debate about Australias current vehicle emission standards risks being rendered meaningless unless a more relevant testing regime is put in place.

The Volkswagen scandal clearly shows that regulators across the globe now need to be assessing the emissions produced by vehicles in the real-world, not just those produced in a laboratory, said Mr Bradley.

The Minister for Major Projects Paul Fletcher said he welcomed the AAAs interest and commitment to this important issue.

Recently the Turnbull Government announced a Ministerial Forum comprising Environment Minister Greg Hunt, Energy and Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg and myself to review policy across all aspects of vehicle emissions.

Today a forum with stakeholders was held in Sydney. Some 50 representatives attended including AAA President Michael Bradley.

The Ministerial Forum is an opportunity to fully investigate the issue of vehicle testing as well as many other issues in relation to vehicle emissions. I welcome the involvement of the AAA in this forum.

I look forward to ongoing discussions with a range of stakeholders around vehicle emissions and testing including the AAA who are a participant in our stakeholder sessions.

The AAA testing is estimated to cost $500,000 over 18 months. The analysis will be done by an independent testing firm in Melbourne which, until now, has specialised in heavy vehicle emissions.

The AAA aims to source the cars independently, rather than borrow them from manufacturers, so they are indicative of what the public buys.

The testing will also use fuel bought at a petrol station, not special laboratory fuel.

Technical expert at the AAA, Craig Newland, said: A number of overseas governments have started doing real driving emissions tests because they recognise the lab tests dont tell you everything. Our concern is there are some vehicles that are sold in Australia that are not sold in overseas, and we need some capability here to be able to assess those properly in the future.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

Australian car owners have launched their second class action lawsuit against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda.

Mid year budget report shows our economy struggling

THE Federal Budget is being starved of revenue and won’t be nourished enough by improving commodity prices.

Thats the tough message from Treasurer Scott Morrison as he prepares to deliver a critical midyear report on the state of the Budget a week before Christmas.

And his alarm today is backed by a report from consultants Deloitte Access Economics, that the Budget deficit will blow out by $24 billion over the next four years.

This means the projected surplus by 2020-21 is unlikely to be delivered.

Mineral exports are the only bright spot for the Federal Budget, but thats not going to save you from substantial spending cuts.

The Government is hoping the prospect of rising iron ore prices, for example, will help rescue the Budget from sinking tax takes from low-growth wages and profits.

But Treasurer Morrison today is warning improved commodity prices wont remove the need for spending cuts and business tax reductions.

He will use the final two weeks of the parliamentary year, which begins today, to argue for business tax cuts worth some $50 billion over 10 years, and which Labor and the Greens oppose.

The government is expected to highlight support for corporate tax cuts given by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten when he was Assistant Treasurer and supporting what now is the Coalition line.

Cutting the company income tax rate increases domestic productivity and domestic investment, Mr Shorten told Parliament in 2011.

More capital means higher productivity and economic growth and leads to more jobs and higher wages.

Labor today added to concerns by warning the nations AAA credit rating was at greater risk.

The May Budget had a deficit three times the shortfall inherited by Labor, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen and shadow finance minister Jim Chalmers said in a statement today.

It is time for this government to take responsibility for the state of the books and stop pointing the finger at everyone else for their failings, they said.

Mr Morrison is today using the warning from consultants to prepare for substantial spending cuts.

The Deloitte report echoes the comments I have been making for some months by rightly drawing attention to the impact of lower growth in wages and profits growth on government revenues, the Treasurer said in a statement today.

The report also correctly puts in perspective the impact of recent commodity price movements on budget revenues.

Mr Morrison said the commodity prices were looking better and that movements in iron ore revenue are consistent with levels incorporated into the 2016-17 Budget, that Labor criticised as being unrealistic.

As already flagged, the government will be adopting a cautious approach to commodity price assumptions in MYEFO and agrees with Deloitte that commodity price impacts are being offset by wages and inflation outcomes, he said.

The goal of our national economic plan outlined in the Budget is to lift what Australians are earning from their wages and their businesses, not tax them more, as Labor propose to do.

That is why our enterprise tax plan is so important. You cant expect businesses to earn and invest in providing more hours of work per week for their employees when you are demanding that they keep paying higher taxes.

The early rally in the markets is now watered down, but the mining stocks still being helped by higher nickel and iron ore prices.