When personalised number plates were first introduced, motorists could get their initials or other selected letter prefixes for a fairly modest one-off charge. But like anything to do with motorists, state governments found yet another way to gouge car owners who wanted to personalise their vehicles.
The thing to remember is that personalised number plates do not cost any more to produce than regular plates. The person ordering them enters the details on-line and a machine automatically spits out the plates at the other end. The only other cost is the delivery to the RTA branch where they will be collected. So one has to ask - why the horrendous price of personalised plates? And why do motorists have to pay an annual fee for a one-off item? Of course the answer is that the government has just found another way to rip off motorists.
In 2012, a set of general issue yellow NSW number plates cost $40. They are made of the same metal and paint as personalised plates, so the physical production cost of all number plates is much the same. They have to be delivered to RTA branches for issue, just like personalised plates. But here is what personalised number plates cost in NSW in 2012 and the information comes from the official website of the NSW number plate ordering system.
The $160 order fee is a sick joke, simply because ordering personalised number plates is done on-line and probably involves no human input. The number plates are assigned to car registrations automatically by computer, so again there is no labour or human input involved. But the killer is the $99 yearly fee for merely asking for specific initials and the real ripoff $440 for asking for a custom letter and number combination.
There is absolutely no justification for demanding a yearly fee for personalised number plates in the first place. Such number plates just sit on cars for many years and there is no work done by the government to maintain or re-issue them, so there is no reason for the government to charge a yearly fee either.
The cost of manufacturing personalised number plates is no more than producing any number plates, such as general issue number plates that cost $40, apart from getting them delivered to a nominated RTA branch for pickup. But this government gouging of $440 per year from motorists for such personalised plates is unconscionable, when these number plates just sit on cars and don't have to be re-issued every year. The government does this for one reason - because it can.
This is yet another area where motorists should complain bitterly to their state politicians and demand that they force the number plate issuing authorities in all states to justify their charges or drop them completely. It is nothing more than another sick revenue-raising rip-off that needs to be abolished.