Car rental firm’s number may be up over plate logo

Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday 24 July 2001
Joseph Kerr

No birds, no blacks - and now maybe no keys, either.

After drawing the ire of feminists over their “no birds” slogan and being found to have demeaned Aborigines through one advertisement, Bayswater Car Rental has fallen foul of transport authorities in two States.

At issue this time is not the firm’s controversial newspaper advertisements — those featuring presidential intern Monica Lewinsky and One Nation founder Pauline Hanson were hotly debated — but the use of their key logo on their cars’ number plates.

In NSW and Western Australia — where the business is based — it is an offence to deface or obscure vehicle number plates.

But while each of the 1,800 vehicles in the fleet has the key logo on its plates, NSW authorities have been unable to stop the practice because the plates are registered in Western Australia.

A spokesman for the Roads and Traffic Authority said vehicles registered in other jurisdictions were exempt from NSW registration regulations.

But one RTA source indicated the NSW Government was “actively” considering how it might change State law to prevent the practice.

A spokesman for the West Australian Department of Transport said: “This is a matter that we’re pursuing with them.”

The chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Mr Harold Scruby, said motorists should not deface or cover plates.

“The next stage is put the towbar in front of the plate, or the bike in front of the plate. You can get away with a whole range of offences ,” he said.

But the company’s manager, Mr Arnold Kluck, explained the practice was a bit of “introverted publicity” which he had been using in NSW for 11 years and Western Australia for nearly two decades.

The Western Australian Government offer all sorts of unusual number plates, which makes it untidy .

“I didn’t think number plates were in the bracket of holy grails,” said Mr Kluck. “The Western Australian Government … offer all sorts of unusual plates, which makes it untidy [to] identify cars. They charge $100 for that.”

He said in advertising, the safest approach was to say nothing. “Then you have no enemies. But no-one knows you either.”