http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,16582788%5E662,00.html Plan to boost tax on 4WDs Jen Kelly, city editor 13sep05 FOUR-wheel-drives would leap in cost by thousands of dollars under a controversial plan to keep the fuel guzzlers out of city streets. The House of Representatives environment committee has urged the Federal Government to consider increasing the tariff on 4WDs. Only farmers and others with a legitimate need for a 4WD would be spared the price jump under the plan. Imported 4WDs attract a 5 per cent tariff while other cars have a 10 per cent tariff, a concession originally intended to help farmers. But 4WDs now make up about one in five new cars sold and have become the car of choice for countless city-slickers. Environment Victoria executive director Marcus Godinho said 4WDs epitomised all that was bad about driving. "These Toorak tractors, which are not only dangerous but highly polluting, are being subsidised by the public," he said. "It's a farcical situation considering our current petrol crisis. These gas guzzlers are a luxury none of us can afford at a time of record petrol prices and dwindling oil supplies." The price jump for 4WDs is one of 32 recommendations in the committee's Sustainable Cities report, released yesterday. By 2010, tariffs for 4WDs will be cut to zero and tariffs for other cars will be reduced to 5 per cent. All car tariffs will be removed by 2015. But committee chairman Dr Mal Walsher said it was hoped the price advantage for 4WD buyers could be removed sooner. "These cars generally are shaped aerodynamically to take more fuel per kilometre, and that creates more pollution per kilometre," he said. "Also they're usually designed in such a way that if you hit someone with the jolly things they have a lot of grief. They're much less safe for pedestrians than, say, sedan cars." The plan was slammed by Four Wheel Drive Victoria president Michael Coldham, who said the claims were misleading. He said 85 per cent of 4WDs used less fuel and created less pollution than six-cylinder sedans. In releasing the committee's report, Dr Walsher also warned Australia needed to urgently recycle more waste water. "There is no doubt a number of Australian cities are in imminent danger of running out of water," he said. Other recommendations include: INCREASING the first homeowner's grant from $7000 to $10,000 for those buying a home with a high energy-efficiency rating. INTRODUCING mandatory testing and reporting of emissions of older vehicles at time of sale. EDUCATING the public about the benefits, economics and safety of using recycled water. Dr Walsher also said fringe benefits tax rules that encouraged car use needed to be changed. "What we're doing is encouraging people to be given a company car and drive it as far as they bloody well can and pay less tax, which is not environmentally a very sound thing," he said.