IF IT seems like every second car in Queensland has a personalised number plate, it probably does .
Against a backdrop of consumer conservatism, the take-up of personalised plates is going gangbusters.
The partly State Government-owned Personalised Plates Queensland has just wrapped up one of its biggest years since it began in 1998, selling more than 50,000 new plates.
General manager Ian Andrew said sales in the week before Christmas topped $850,000 with plates starting from $435.
"The advent of text speak has really given the industry a boost in so far as the combinations of letters and numbers being used," Mr Andrew said. ''People's creativity never ceases to astound us."
The latest product featuring two letters and two numbers was proving very popular despite the $995 cost.
"People are always trying to sneak through the censorship gates although they're usually just having a bit of fun," he said.
"About three times a year we have to recall a plate because of a complaint. When that happens the owner is given a full refund."
Nicknames and makes of cars are popular but most personalised plates just involve words that resonate with the owner.
A couple in Rockhampton chose to plate their new Toyota Kluger with "FREDDY" in a twist on the horror movie character.
Most of the profits are returned to the State Government to use in road safety projects. Last year, the Government collected just over $11 million, down on the previous year's stake of $12.318 million.
QCW COMMENT: PPQ's Ian Andrew has shown he is the quintessential bureaucrat with his untimely admission that PPQ is acting like the official Queensland censor. He says that PPQ forcibly recalls plates "about three times a year" as a result of complaints. That's OK it seems according to Mr Andrew because the owner is given a full refund. However it is described, it is still a ripoff. Doesn't PPQ have any sort of vetting process when it comes to which plates it will allow. How do the ones which are recalled get through this vetting process - if one exists - in the first place? Basically, today's admission by Mr Andrew is an admission of failure by PPQ. Once a set of plates is approved, that should be it - no recalls, no buy backs, no administrative chicanery. Just because some unhappy prude in the community doesn't like a particular plate is no reason for the PPQ censors to fly into a rage. PPQ should properly vet the plates it issues in advance, so that people's "pride and joy" are not recalled for melting down at the whim of some faceless bureaucrat. If these simple checks cannot be performed in advance, then it may be time for the fat cats at the top of PPQ to "shape up or ship out" and stop embarrassing the government.