In NSW, since December 2008, it has not been possible to register a motor vehicle in joint names. It would seem that this change in policy was made to streamline the issuing and enforcement of fines under the NSW road rules. Regrettably, the government appears not to have considered the impact this change would have on the safety of women and children affected by domestic violence in NSW – ill-thought-out bureaucratic convenience prevailed.
This is consistent with the general reluctance to prioritise women and children’s safety and wellbeing over property ownership, as manifest in the unwillingness to seek orders excluding violent men from homes to which they have legal title.
Taking and selling the car used by a female partner is just one of many strategies a male partner may use to perpetrate financial abuse and exercise control in a domestic violence situation. In order to provide the necessary protection for women in these situations and ensure two signatures are required for the sale of a jointly owned car, it is essential that the NSW government reinstate the option of registering motor vehicles in joint names, or at very least enable a second interest in a vehicle to be noted.