Australian governments are shooting each other in the foot over VE policies | Electric vehicles
As of last week, Canberrans who purchase EVs and other zero-emission vehicles automatically receive a free two-year registration. The Australian Capital Territory is already waiving stamp duty on clean cars and has promised households and nonprofits interest-free loans of up to $ 15,000 to purchase them.
Also last week, the Victorian parliament passed the country’s first road charge – a tax on every kilometer driven – for electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids. The Labor state government legislation was backed by enough cross-country MPs to pass the upper house despite opposition from the coalition and the Greens. It starts on July 1st.
These contrasting approaches reflect what campaigners say is Australia’s confused and contradictory approach to helping the country adopt EVs at a time when other countries are increasingly supporting them.
Only 0.75% of new cars bought in Australia last year were electric vehicles. It compares to over 4% globally, over 10% in Great Britain and the European Union, and almost 75% in Norway.
The Morrison government – after accusing Labor of wanting to ‘end the weekend’ before the last federal election with a non-binding 50% EV target for 2030 – doesn’t think it’s its role to quickly change that.
Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor has ruled out policies used elsewhere to boost EV adoption, such as direct consumer subsidies or banning sales of new fossil-fueled cars from 2030 or 2035 , as promised in countries like UK, Germany and India. , Thailand and Japan.
Taylor argues that the political role of the federal government is to allow consumers to choose by supporting EV charging infrastructure, not to bring about rapid change for climate reasons. He cites a doubling in sales last year of non-plug-in hybrid cars, which have both gasoline and electric engines, and still emit CO2 through the tailpipe.
As with power generation, where the Morrison government abandoned Coalition plans to introduce comprehensive policy, states and territories are working to fill this federal void.
The ACT Greens-Labor government’s approach has been to try to accelerate adoption to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport as quickly as possible. Treasurers from at least three states – Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales – have supported another path: introducing road user charges for electric vehicles before they take off to create a long-term source of income before the inevitable expansion of technology.
Their position follows a push from thinktank and pressure group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and a report by the Victorian government to the Board of Treasurers – a forum of state and territory treasurers – last year, which advised on how best to to introduce road user charges on clean fares and low emissions cars.
The dispute is usually not whether a road user tax is ultimately a good idea. The question is whether the time is right to introduce one, given the focus on rapid emissions cuts and growing warnings that Australia risks being left behind and having to pay more. in the future to transform its vehicle fleet.
The Victoria Treasury report and an independent analysis of independent experts found that a road user charge introduced without further support for electric vehicles could discourage their adoption and slow emissions reductions.
Launching ACT’s free registration program last week, Shane Rattenbury, leader of the Territory Greens and Minister for Emissions Reduction, said a road user tax on clean cars was a ” disastrous policy âwhen national sales of electric vehicles were below 1%. The territorial government says it is prioritizing achieving net zero emissions by 2045. “I encourage these other states to rethink their strategies,” he said.
Under Victoria’s new laws, owners of clean vehicles are required to keep a log of odometer readings to provide to authorities at the end of the year. They will be charged 2.5 cents per kilometer for electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell cars and 2 cents for hybrids. The rate will increase with the consumer price index.
The Andrews Labor government estimated that the average cost would initially be around $ 330 per year. It is expected to add at least $ 3,000 to the cost of a car over its lifetime.
The central argument for a road user charge is that it will be necessary to replace the national fuel excise paid by drivers of gasoline cars as a source of budgetary revenue. The Victorian government said last year it “had proudly played an active role” in pushing treasurers across the country to introduce a road user charge “which ensures that all motorists pay their fair share” .
Auto makers and environmental groups weren’t convinced. A group of 25 issued an open letter in April urging the state government not to introduce what it described as the “world’s worst electric vehicle policy,” warning that it increased the risk of Victorians failing to do so. ‘do not have access to high quality and affordable electric vehicles.
The Andrews government later announced it would provide a $ 3,000 subsidy for electric vehicles that cost less than $ 69,000, set a target that 50% of new car sales be zero-emission vehicles or low emissions by 2030 and pledged to support more infrastructure.
Internal and external critics have also delayed the introduction of road user taxes in New South Wales – where Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s proposal was opposed by Environment Minister Matt Kean and Minister of Transport, Andrew Constance – and SA, where the government announced a charge in the budget but then decided to wait a year to see how it worked elsewhere.
The passage of the road use tax by the Victorian Parliament has been welcomed by the Managing Director of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, Adrian Dwyer. Describing electric vehicles as “established technology,” he applauded state treasurer Tim Pallas and “the sane banker” for looking down on “a fringe fear campaign.”
âIt’s a resounding endorsement that it is possible to encourage the electrification of transportation while still being able to pay for infrastructure,â Dwyer said. ‘Now is the time for the NSW government to follow the Victorian state handbook and introduce a road user charge on electric vehicles, alongside a comprehensive proposal to go green. the state’s light vehicle fleet.
Richie Merzian, director of climate and energy at the Australian Institute, said no serious argument could be made that the road user charge did not discourage reducing Australia’s growing transport emissions. .
“This will further slow down the already embarrassing adoption of electric vehicles,” he said. âIt is incredible that in the same month that the US President pledges US $ 174 billion for the electric vehicle industry, the Australian government put nothing in its budget for electric vehicles and that a state government imposes a tax.
“It’s so hard to explain to foreign governments how successful Australians are in shooting themselves in the foot.”
Road to nowhere? EV commitments
No stamp duty on new zero emission vehicles.
Free registration of new zero-emission vehicles.
Zero interest loans pledged up to $ 15,000 for households.
All cars in the fleet newly leased zero emission in 2020-2021.
Lightweight, low-emission vehicles benefit from a maximum discount of $ 30 upon registration.
Road use charges proposed but deferred for clean cars.
Government fleets will represent 30% of electric vehicles by 2023.
Fully electric bus fleet by 2030.
The road charge of 2.5 cents / km for zero-emission cars and 2 cents / km for plug-in hybrid cars begins July 1.
$ 3,000 in grants for electric vehicles cheaper than $ 69,000.
$ 100 registration discount for EV owners.
Owners of electric vehicles pay a lower royalty rate on motor vehicles than other luxury cars.
50% target for new electric vehicle sales by 2030.
$ 10 million for 400 electric vehicles in the government fleet by 2023.
VE in the lowest band for recording and stamp duty.
Double the number of electric vehicles in government fleets every four years.
Funded 31 fast-charging sites in 2017; $ 2.5 million more for 13 stations in 2020.
Promised a road user charge but delayed it for a year.
Government fleet cars should be replaced with electric vehicles when possible. Aim to be fully electric vehicles by 2030.
$ 13.4 million for the public charging network.
Objective of a 100% electric government fleet by 2030.
$ 600,000 for a fast charging network.
Source: Electric Vehicle Council