New Zealand's Motor Industry Association, which represents companies who import and market new vehicles, has come out in support of a carbon tax on fuel as a means of reducing CO2 emissions, saying it would encourage vehicle owners to adopt more fuel efficient practices - for example driving less, adopting fuel efficient driving habits or the purchase of more fuel efficient vehicles.

"We are totally supportive of the position now taken by all the major political parties in New Zealand regarding the need to acknowledge the effects on the environment of the burning of fossil fuels," said MIA CEO Perry Kerr. "We stress, however, that while we support the introduction of a carbon tax, it has to be fiscally neutral. There would need to be corresponding downward adjustments to the corporate and personal tax rates."

According to the MIA, New Zealand is more dependent on private vehicle ownership for its transport needs than virtually any other country. That places a responsibility on the country to manage this situation in a way that best protects the environment.

"We haven't done that very well," said Kerr. "The unchecked importation of older and older used vehicles has caused the average age of cars in the New Zealand fleet to increase from 9.9 years in 1992 to just under 12 years today, which means that instead of playing our part in the reduction of CO2 emissions we're actually going backwards."

Kerr added that "the new vehicle industry would be happy to embrace any sensible policies directed at reducing the fuel consumption of the national fleet and in addition to a carbon tax which would have a direct and beneficial impact on overall fuel use the MIA has come out in support of a package of initiatives including the introduction of fuel efficiency targets, an age limit for used vehicles and cash incentives to be paid to vehicle owners to scrap older vehicles."

Kerr said that "ministers need to consider a package of initiatives and that the motor industry was waiting for the government to take some decisive steps."

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