Num8er P1ates

Back in my younger days I had personalised number plates on my car that included the number 007 (yeah, I know, what was I thinking). Personalised plates were pretty popular in my hometown in NSW and part of the reason is because they were fairly priced. It wasn’t unheard of for a couple of people to chip in 20 bucks for an 18th or 21st birthday present to whack on a mate’s car.

When I moved to Canberra I wanted to keep my unique plates but, being a new resident of Canberra, was also wary that I should change my car registration from NSW to the ACT. I’d paid $120 for my number plates and reckoned it was a reasonable price to pay. But when I enquired about the cost in Canberra for the same product I was absolutely shocked to learn they would cost $1,500.

Needless to say, I’ve had the generic ACT blue and white Y series plates ever since. However, I have always been amazed at the huge quantity of ACT personalised number plates there are out there.

I needed to go to the motor registry the other day and while I was there I asked what people had to pay for personalised plates in the ACT these days. Turns out there are a range of prices, depending on what combination you decide on.

Two letters and three numbers (eg AB 123) will set you back upwards of $400. A plate consisting of any five numbers (eg 12345) sets you back $827. To let people know you support the Canberra Raiders or ACT Brumbies football teams costs up to $1,200. Three letters with three numbers (eg ABC 123) or a word of up to seven letters (eg WANKERS) will add $2,500 to your credit card bill.

But the one that nearly knocked me over was the cost of number plates with only three numbers. There are a ridiculous number of Canberrans who have paid over $6,000 for these plates. And remember, these are the costs for these plates on the primary market – the costs you pay to get them from the motor registry. Popular second hand number plates can be sold for whatever the person buying them is willing to pay. Want the number plate BKRUPT in Victoria and you’ll need a spare $100,000 (yes, these plates are currently on the market and that’s the asking price). Ironically, paying six figures for two thin pieces of metal would probably send you bankrupt.

I have often heard of gambling being referred to as a tax for stupid people, but I reckon that’s a harsh assessment for something that is an addiction for hundreds of thousands of people. Paying $6,085.30 for a three digit numerical number plate is a tax for stupid people.

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