RV registration: An unfair system?

Max Taylor — 4 February 2015

Picture this: you’ve visited countless caravan shows, pestered the local caravan dealers, and have done many hours of research, just to be sure that the tens of thousands of dollars earmarked for your new van will be spent well. Your mantra: no surprises. Anyone would say you’ve done things properly.

But at any stage, did you consider how much it would cost to register the van in your home state? No? Well, there’s your first surprise.

Australia is without a doubt the best country in the world for RV touring, but our many governments really know how to squeeze us dry of every dollar. And the lack of consistency, from road rules to registration, is downright gobsmacking.

If you’re a New South Welshman with a caravan weighing about 2500kg Tare, you’ll be smacked with a rego bill of more than $600.

But if you’re a Victorian, and your van weighs less than 4500kg ATM, which is almost all caravans, you can expect a bill of around $50. To be honest, I thought there was some sort of mistake when I heard about this.

A bit of context: my 4WD costs about $650 to register in Victoria (I remember when it was about $350) and I use it almost every day of the year.

Caravans, by nature, are not used every day of the year (unless it’s owned by a lucky full-time nomad). In fact, most people would get two or three weeks in their van every year, or perhaps a couple of months.

I’m sure there’s a rule that requires a vehicle owner to register it in their home state, but by enforcing such an inherently unfair system, our politicians sure are making things difficult.

We endeavoured to find out why there is such a large cost discrepancy in each state and territory but, predictably, we were met by a brick wall of bureaucracy. Try to find out how that extra money is being spent and you’d be forgiven for thinking that governments spend more on spin doctors than they do services.

I think most people are happy to pay a fair rate for something but object to being treated unfairly. Is the current system fair? I reckon most vanners from New South Wales wouldn’t think so.

And how is it fair that in Queensland, for example, a difference of 1kg (ATM) – a handful of dunny rolls – can add almost $100 to your rego bill?

Clearly, the general disarray of our caravan registration system needs to be taken into account before signing on the bottom line. A kilo here or there could cost you thousands in the long run.

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #535, March 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!


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