Cross-border vehicle registration capers

Come the first of January 2014, Victorians will no longer need to affix registration labels to their car windscreens – VicRoads is finally abolishing them. We aren’t the first state to do, which presented some troubles when neighbouring South Australia did away with them in 2012:

Victorian police harass SA motorists for not displaying vehicle registration stickers

David Nankervis
Sunday Mail (SA)
September 22, 2012

South Australian motorists are being fined by Victorian police for not displaying registration stickers – despite the labels being abolished more than a year ago.

Concerns that hundreds of Adelaide fans who drove to Melbourne for yesterday’s AFL preliminary final would be targeted by Victorian officers ignorant of SA’s rego laws prompted an appeal on Friday by Public Sector Minister Michael O’Brien to Victorian Police Minister Paul Ryan.

“The South Australian Government would appreciate a reminder being issued by Victoria Police command to officers of the legal situation and their ability to verify registration by entering licence plate details into the electronic database,” Mr O’Brien wrote on Friday.

Yesterday, he said some Victorian police were “causing aggravation and inconvenience for SA motorists” who are not breaking the law: “There is no offence committed and Victorian police should damn well know that and there’s no excuse so it’s a case of harassment.”

Independent State MPs John Darley said he knew of two motorists who were fined in the past four weeks. “I understand they had to get confirmation from motor registration that their cars were registered and send that to Victoria Police to have the fines withdrawn,” Mr Darley said.

Stawell police acting sergeant Mark Stevens admitted yesterday there had been an “anomaly” where SA motorists had been fined after the law change. “We had a statewide email go out (approximately two months ago) saying SA motorists were not required to have a sticker,” he said yesterday.

However ignorance of interstate laws isn’t a one way street, if this fifty year old newspaper article is anything to go by:

Warning on registration labels

The Age
Jan 23, 1963

South Australian police are prohibiting Victorian motorises from crossing the border if their vehicles do not bear current registration labels.

This warning was given by the Mildura RACV representative (Mr K. Wright). He said it was not sufficient for motorists to prove they had sent fees to the Motor Registration Branch.

He said an Irymple man who had paid his registration and third party fees to the RACV for forwarding had been stopped at the border near Renmark recently. Mr. Wright said police would not let him proceed even through he had the RACV receipt to prove that he had paid his registration.

This man had to return to Mildura and pay for interim registration. He would then have to wait six months for a refund of the second outlay.

Mr. Wright said hundreds of Victorians would be crossing the border this week to go to the fourth Test, which behinds on Friday. Unless the registration labels on their vehicles were current they would not be allowed to cross the border he warned.

A case of the boot on the other foot?

Recognising vehicle registrations between Australian states has a long history – the Victorian Motor Car Act 1932 describes a convoluted process for motorists to follow on crossing the border:

The Visitor

72. The driver of a motor car registered in another State of the Commonwealth shall on entering Victoria present such motor car at the nearest practicable police station and produce to the member of the Police Force in charge thereof the current certificate of registration of such motor car and the licence of such driver, and shall lodge with such member of the Police Force an application in the form or to the effect of the form contained in the Fifteenth Schedule hereto for a permit to use such motor car in Victoria.

If such member of the Police Force is satisfied that the motor car will be in Victoria temporarily only and that it will not,be used for the carriage of passengers for hire or goods for hire or in the course of trade whilst in the said State, he may issue to the said driver or owner a permit in the form of the Fifteenth Schedule hereto for the use of such motor car in Victoria for a period not exceeding two months or for such shorter period for which the permit is required : Provided that in each case such motor car is registered in such other State for the period covered by the permit.

Thankfully in the years since, the process for motorists crossing state borders has been simplified – the Victorian Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations 2009 detail the reciprocal arrangements between states:

Exemption for vehicles temporarily in Victoria

131. Exemption for vehicles temporarily in Victoria

A vehicle is exempt from the requirement to be registered if-

(a) the vehicle is in Victoria temporarily; and

(b) the vehicle is-

(i) registered in another State, a Territory or a foreign country; or

(ii) permitted to be used in accordance with a law in force in another
State or a Territory relating to the use of unregistered vehicles
(including a law relating to trade plates); and

(c) the vehicle is carrying, conspicuously displayed in the required way
and condition, all number plates and labels that it is at that time
required to carry-

(i) for a vehicle registered outside Victoria, in the State, Territory or
country in which it is registered under the law of that State,
Territory or country; or

(ii) for an unregistered vehicle permitted to be used in another State or a
Territory, in that State or Territory under the law of that State or
Territory; and

(d) for an unregistered vehicle permitted to be used in another State or a
Territory, the vehicle is being used in accordance with any conditions
of any permit or other authority that apply in that State or
Territory, to the extent they are capable of being applied to the use
of the vehicle outside that State or Territory.

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8 Responses to “Cross-border vehicle registration capers”

  1. Albert says:

    I better not drive to Victoria this year then. New South Wales is ahead of Victoria for more rego labels by one year.

  2. jon says:

    You have to admit in 1963 it was slightly harder for them to check if the rego was valid.

  3. Andrew says:

    A case of coppers not reading notices that come to the stations, or emails now I guess. Some great historical finds there.

    My partner’s car will be one of the last to receive a label, and mine will be one of the first to not receive a label.

  4. Martin Bennett says:

    The various States’ and Territories’ laws or regulations contradict each other quite extensively, in their effects if not their words, as they all try to maximise their revenue. The inter-state rivalry and competition for revenue results in totally ridiculous situations arising.

    A case in point, a motorist driving south on the Hume Highway in New South Wales might notice that the signs telling you how far it is to each city or town along the highway do not mention any place in Victoria apart from Melbourne. Only after crossing the border into Victoria are places such as Wangaratta, Benalla or Seymour even mentioned. Heading north in Victoria it is even worse, with no mention of any town or city in New South Wales apart from Sydney – even Albury, which is the largest city on the entire route. Not mentioned at all – only Wodonga. Albury is not mentioned until you are almost there, and the roads between Wodonga and Albury divide. At that point it would be difficult not to mention Albury, though the bureaucrats probably tried to think of a way!

    How would you like to be an overseas visitor going from Melbourne to Albury to visit relatives or something like that, and the map tells you to take Highway 31 but as you drive the 300-odd kilometres up the highway the signs at no time mention Albury? Even nowadays with a sat-nav, if it was me I would feel a bit uneasy about whether I was on the right road.

    This goes way beyond inter-state rivalry and takes us into the realms of downright childishness. This kind of thinking cannot have been what the founding fathers of Federation had in mind. It is the kind of nonsense that has held Australia back for well over a century.

  5. Martin Bennett says:

    For registration A.C.T. is by far the dearest, which I suppose should not be unexpected. In return they provide by far the smallest road system of all. Go figure, as they say.

    Because of the very close proximity of New South Wales, some A.C.T. car owners are tempted by N.S.W. registration, which the N.S.W. government allows provided you have a “customer number” and regardless of the residential address you provide, while the A.C.T. government contradicts this by claiming in its website that A.C.T. residents with their cars registered in N.S.W. are illegally driving unregistered cars!

    Some might remember that a few years ago the various State and Territory transport ministers held a conference to standardise the road rules throughout Australia. What happened next? The various States and Territories immediately continued to legislate new or amended road rules so that now the road rules are as different as they were before the conference!

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