Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Nelson’s Tarago too far

Posted by Possum Comitatus on May 16, 2008

This was me in Crikey earlier today.

Labor is giving with one hand and taking back with the other – and not just through knee-jerk measures such as the new Tarago Tax on cars” – raged Brendan Nelson in his budget reply.

The idea of calling the luxury car tax increase a “Tarago Tax” sounds like a clever bit of politicking, projecting the image of some poor working family getting slugged for simply having the audacity to need a people mover. With five rugrats – the choice becomes limited in the car market. But the problem with these cute little clichés is that they invariably turn out to be bollocks.

Toyota has five Tarago models available in Australia, with only one model – the top of the range Ultima model (described by Toyota as “Business class travel”) qualifying for the new proposed tax increase with a price of $72 490. The cheaper models start from $49 750, well under the luxury car tax threshold.

Toyota Australia confirmed some numbers- Brendan Nelson might be a little surprised to learn that of all Tarago’s sold in the country, the Ultima edition makes up 20 units, on average, a month.

Once fleet and commercial buyers are removed such as taxis, rentals and whatnot, that number reduces to 10 units, on average, per month.

It’s not quite the suffering army of Tarago buying families that Nelson would have us believe.

So when the leader of the Opposition next says “For Gods sake, think of the Tarago drivers” – it really is pretty easy to think about them, in fact you could almost remember their individual faces – all two and half of them a week.

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35 Responses to “Nelson’s Tarago too far”

  1. onimod said

    Nothing like the facts getting in the way of an idiot.

  2. 2353 said

    You’ve really got to wonder what rarefied economic conditions Nelson and co have been living in if they think LCT will get traction (sorry) with Howard’s battlers – a number of which would be flat out buying a $20k car new, let alone one that costs $57k + on roads.

    Even the Chrysler Grand Voyager (http://www.chrysler.com.au/voyager/pricing.html)has a model under $57k! Maybe the name Voyager has implications!

  3. PASOK said

    Nelson is going to need a Tarago soon to be able to fit all those nodding figurines on his dashboard.

  4. cybercynic said


    In South Australia these are the vehicle of choice for the exclusive bretheren who congregate around BlackForest.

    Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

  5. Possum Comitatus said

    I dont get it either 2353.

    Why on earth would Nightwatchman run on the trio of denying a tax break to a big chunk of middle income earners – the people that deserted the Coalition at the election (which is what the lifting of the Medicare Levy Surcharge actually is in practice), opposing a tax equalisation measure on RTDs and gunning for people that buy 57K+ cars?

    Opposing a tax cut, proposing more teenage drunkenness and wanting tax relief for luxury car owners. WTF kind of political message is that?

    The blokes off his quokka.

    He might get a bounce from the 150K+ income households over it, but he’s hardening up Labor support in the big low, middle and upper middle income demographics.

    Then again, if you look at the blokes that Nelson has surrounded himself with….

  6. Possum Comitatus said

    PASOK – :mrgreen:

    I thought Hockey and Mezmerelda’s heads were going to roll right off onto the floor there at once stage. Never has there been such furious nodding.

  7. helen said

    Noddies and Big Ears Party

  8. Ronin8317 said

    The 5c a litre petrol excise idea will destroy the Liberal Party’s base support.

    Someone needs to remind Nelson and Co. that the Liberal Party lost the last election. Playing obstructionist will guarantee a Labor majority of both the House and the Senate when a Double Dissolution is triggered.

  9. Stephen Lloyd said

    GIven the youth vote was a strong part of Rudds popularity before the election, I think opposing the tax is a good idea from the Libs point of view.

    The Facebook group “Aussies Against the Alcohol Tax Increase” has close to 30,000 members, and Facebook’s target audience is the twenty-somethings, slightly older than the teenage MySpace crowd, so I am not sure its as clear-cut as you guys want to make out.

    And say what you will about the statistics and sales levels, the average voter doesnt go that deep. If all they hear is ‘Tarago Tax’, it will leave the impression it is a harsh tax, thats all that matters – perception.

    Swan played the same game anyway, when he announced it, the car he used for illustration was a Jaguar, to reinforce it was a tax on the rich, but the majority of cars this tax will hit are people who by Ford Terrotory Ghia’s, and up-model Commodores (An SS-V with a few options gets in over the $57,000 mark). It’s not a tax on Mercs and Rollers, anymore than it is a tax on Taragos.

  10. B.S. Fairman said

    9- How many of that 30000 is underage? Facebook groups are probably one of the weakest ways to gauge opinion. As you grow old, the cost of getting pissed doesn’t stress you as much (Not to mention you generally give up on those drinks too). The over 21 drinkers of pre-mixed drinks generally have much bigger issues to worry about. (Plus one of the facebook groups is suggesting it is 300% tax rise, whereas it is only 70%).

    It would be political suicide to force a double dissolution on such a trivial issue. It is not the type of stunt you pull when you are 20 points behind with a leader who is both unpopular and somewhat hopeless at getting a message out.

    As for the LCT, it could even be sold as an enviromental tax given that the bigger cars cost more. Nelson will look like a fool is he continues to use the Tarago tax name.

  11. David Richards said

    There’s no way this trinity of issues will win the Libs a single seat… but their idiocy may lose them a swag.

    The stunt today over Pensions – – what is the point? No one on either side said they would increase the base rate of pensions- and Aquaman knocked that idea on the head quicksmart… despite what that air-headed bint on the opposition benches said.

  12. “the top of the range Ultima model (described by Toyota as “Business class travel”) qualifying for the new proposed tax increase with a price of $72 490” Yes, but how many quokkas can you fit in it? that’s what I want to know…

  13. onimod said

    Stephen Lloyd

    At the time of posting the Age poll was 75% in favour with 2275 respondents and the percentages have been consistent all day.
    It’s just another internet poll, but the consistent and strong support for a tax increase suggests that there is a pretty resonant feeling out there amongst at least 1 demographic, and I doubt the Age has too many under-age readers.

    On the head nodding (or nodding and shaking as it was at one stage) – just too funny. Hockey has become a caricature, of a caricature, of himself. I thought the description of Mezmerelda as ‘Chuckey’s Mum’ (thanks red wombat) was just inspired.

  14. Jack Dorf said

    Tarago Tax is such a good line.

    Not researching it is so mindlessly dumb.

    Catching the next Liberal using it will be gold.

  15. James said

    @ B.S Fairmain….

    I can enlighten you on that point. Some government taskforce called for the 300% on beer and wine as well, right after the alcopop announcement. This got a lot of people worried (not to mention very angry about this proposal).

    However, this was all hype. The governemt never endorsed that, and obviously didn’t follow through with it, they kept it to the much lower percentage and just on the alcopop.

    But good point, many of the effected are likely underage.

  16. Stephen Lloyd said

    Onimod, I don’t trust Age or SMH polls, you look down the list of SMH polls, where the answers are a fairly clear left/right position, they are almost consistently 70-80% to 30-20% in favour of the left option. Their polls say more about their readership than the issue at hand.

  17. Stephen Lloyd said

    I should add that was the case during the last election, I don’t check their polls anymore, so I cant attest to them lately.

  18. Kirribilli Removals said

    That Horatio Hornet is doing “a heck of a good job”, eh?

    5 cents off?

    What’s that in round numbers, about 3%? Or a large chunk of his popularity rating?

    That man’s a genius for dreaming that up, or did he get help from the US election campaign?

    He’s not even keeping the seat warm. It’s getting colder by the day.

  19. B.S. Fairman said

    I know where the suggestion of a 300% tax hike came from; it was a News Limited report into the statements of a member of the taskforce, that was written up as if was actually government policy. It wasn’t even the output of the taskforce. An act of extremely poor journalism, even by News Limited standards.

    As old joke say the only reason government’s form taskforces is to ignore the results.

  20. Brendan Nelson should just be thankful that there isn’t a tax on un-inspirational leadership – or a LCT (Leadership Crap Tax).

  21. David Richards said

    Maybe Edna the Nightwatchman is looking for a government subsidy for all leaders who fail to secure a viable level of support without being subsidised?

  22. B.S. Fairman said

    Bonus points for spotting the first pollie or insider to quote Possum on this matter.

  23. paul said

    Regardless of the stats, Tarago drivers need to be shot….. slow bastards

  24. fred said

    Seen the current crop of oil companies’ profits?
    Absolute record profits for several of them.

  25. Droo said

    Yes, the 5.5c petrol excise represents about 3.6% of the price of petrol. Given that petrol is only one component of the price of most goods the potential saving to hosueholds on their food etc spending is minimal at best. If petrol costs represent as much as 20% of the cost of an item (and I think that’s way too high) you are still only saving .7% of the cost. Useless I reckon. On fuel purchasing the saving is obviously greater but if you buy 70 litres of fuel a week you still are only saving $3.50 a week. It might mount up over a year but its pretty paltry at best.

  26. The Intellectual Bogan said

    Quite apart from the dubious logic of making fossil fuel energy cheaper, if a governmet wants to ease the fuel price burden on the battler there are cheaper ways to do it.

    Spend a small handful of millions on an ad campaign giving punters tips on driving economically. Those who really want to spend less on fuel then have the information to do so voluntarily and those who don’t can continue contributing to revenue.

    Seriously, most people, with a few fairly minor changes to their driving habits, would be able to drop their fuel bills by 10% (or more with a bit of effort) with no detectable change to their journey times. A far bigger saving than any government initiative can offer, without the substantial cost to the public purse.

  27. Chino said

    I did some back of the envelope research this morning on the 5 cent rebate – a barrel of oil is 159 litres. Today the price of a barrel of oil is US$127, which is US$.80 cents a litre. [AU$ is almost at parity at $.96 cents today]

    The so called rebate would be swallowed up in about 6 weeks if the oil price continues to rise at the same rate it has done for the first 4 months of this year, and if the petrol companies decide not to profiteer, which would be somewhat unlikely. 6 weeks.

    What a waste of time.

  28. onimod said

    The ‘Tarago Tax’ got another run up the flagpole at the Press Club today – Mister Allbull was responsible.
    i guess we know who’s blog he doesn’t read then…
    i think at one stage he suggested that a Tarago shouldn’t be subject to luxury car tax because it’s not that luxurious to ride in.
    Potential Treasurer eh?
    Weekend lifestyle section of a major paper seems more appropriate.

  29. Xercius said

    Irrespective, it’s still a pernicious and stupid tax. Where’s the Audimers Piguet tax, or the Richard Mille tax (even a basic Richard Mille watch will set you back about 100,000-00 euros, and all it does it tell the time just like a $1,000-00 Seiko will . . . very pretty though), or the Hatteras 100 tax, or the Case of Grange tax?

    Another of my ‘objections’ is the application of the term ‘luxury’. A Lotus Exige Sport 240 (list price $149,990-00) is certainly an expensive vehicle. But, is it a luxury vehicle? Most people (unless they are saddo, long-term motor sport enthuiasts / competitors like me who are happy to drive around in what is essentially a race car with number plates), if compelled to drive a vehicle like that (or any number of Ferraris) would kill to get out of them. They’re noisy, cramped, harsh riding, demanding, difficult to drive ‘monsters’ . . . hardly ‘luxury’ (for the Lotus, carpet is an option). Now, a Bently Continental GT or a Maybach . . . that’s a totally different proposition.

    Thing is, too, I know plenty of people for whom their Lotus / Ferrari / Porsche / Maserlamborini is their only major asset. They’ve rejected the ‘whole house ownership in the burbs’ thing in order to buy what is — for them — essentially a fine piece of sporting equipment. It’s no luxury living on Vegemite sandwiches day to day so that you can afford to run the car at the next Ferrari Club track day. Gee, even a Subaru WRX Sti or Lancer Evo 10 cops LCT. Luxury cars? Try driving one between Sydney and Brisbane and see.

    When the LCT first arrived on the scene back in 1980-something, the thereshold was about $28,000-00. That was close enough to Porsche money back then and would almost have bagged you two and a bit top-model Commodores. $57, whatever – 00 now gets you one VE SS Commodore and an invitation to the release of the new HSV. It does get you a Tarago, a Territory, possibly an FG Falcon Ghia but little else. True, it might get you almost three frugal tin and plastic boxes, built somewhere in Asia and bereft of much in the way of sparkling dynamics and actual quality . . . but they’re not really cars anyway: they’re fridges (or some other appliance).

  30. Aspirational Aspirationalist said

    Saw this on lateline (story “Turnbull’s endorsement of fuel policy half-hearted” – 22/5/08)recently, and i have to tip my hat to the second journalist.

    KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Next, the other question he was dreading: would he rule out a leadership challenge?

    MALCOLM TURNBULL: This is the inevitable question and the inevitable answer and the inevitable answer is I don’t comment on the leadership other than to say we have a leader, his name is Brendan Nelson and he has all of our support.

    KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: So journalists tried it another way.

    RILEY, JOURNALIST: Perhaps I’ll go to a question of your former life as a merchant banker. With Nelson futures at 17 per cent and the Liberal Party at 41, at what point does a Party look at perhaps a hostile takeover?

  31. Aspirational Aspirationalist said

    Now Petrol will always be cheaper under a coalition government

    Sometimes i really have no idea what they are thinking. We’ll give you a 5 cent cut, but we’ll do nothing extra to address the underlying cause of the higher prices or try to move away from oil dependence.

  32. Andos said

    The details in this article were just quoted in Parliament in a second reading speech on the Appropriation Bill number 1 08-09, in terms of Nelson’s so called ‘Tarago Tax’, by Mark Butler, the member for Port Adelaide.

    Go Possum!

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