The Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin has welcomed the release of new motor vehicle sales figures which, he says, indicate the local car industry has entered the new GST era in a strong position.

Senator Minchin said today's VFACTS figures show sales for the period July 1999 to June 2000 (742,300) represent the third best result ever for this period, behind only the boom years of 1997-98 and 1998-99.

Sales over the first six months of this year were also the third highest on record, trailing only 1998 and 1999.

"I would like to congratulate the industry on its handling of the recent transition period, and for its excellent sales performance. Any uncertainty in the market that may have existed during the lead-up to the GST has now been erased", Senator Minchin said.

"The replacement of the wholesale sales tax on motor vehicles with the GST is expected to provide a tax cut of around $2,000 on standard family vehicles and should lead to an immediate boost in car sales.

"The new tax arrangements will see the share of tax revenue from motor vehicles fall from around 22 per cent under the current wholesale sales tax system to just 3 per cent of revenue under the GST.

"I note that Ford Australia President Mr Geoff Polites is predicting that July 2000 could be the biggest month of all time for new vehicle sales, and Toyota's Senior Executive Vice President, Mr John Conomos has suggested that new car sales for the year 2000 could reach 790,000 units, which would be the second best year of all-time".

"When you also consider the industry's outstanding recent export performance, demonstrated by record vehicle exports running at more than 36 per cent above exports over the same period in 1999, there is a great deal of forward momentum being generated in the Australian car industry.

"The industry is now in a strong position to take advantage of the benefits of the Government's tax reform, including $12 billion of personal income tax cuts and the removal of embedded taxes, and build on its recent sales achievements in Australia and overseas", Senator Minchin said.

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