The Morrison Government’s electric vehicle policy has been dismissed as a token gesture to get it through the next election rather than a serious attempt to take Australia into a zero-emissions transport future.
Australian Electric Vehicle Association ACT branch chair Rob Ogilvie said that while the $250 million plan’s boost to charging infrastructure was welcome, without measures to increase the range of models available in the Australian market and bring down the cost of EVs, uptake would remain low despite Australians screaming out for the new technology.
ACT Emissions Reductions Minister Shane Rattenbury said the Future Fuels Strategy was a missed opportunity to reduce the cost and uptake of EVs and accelerate the transition to clean transport.
Mr Ogilvie said the Federal Government appeared to have turned a deaf ear to what should be done.
This included adopting fuel efficiency standards like those in Europe and the US, the axing of taxes on EVs such as the 5 per cent excise on vehicles imported from the UK, and the luxury car tax.
Mr Oglivie said a fuel efficiency standard would create an incentive for carmakers to bring EVs into the Australian market, instead of dumping dirty old tech here.
“Australia doesn’t have that and we’re fast becoming a dumping ground for the older models,” he said.
Mr Oglivie said developing a used EV market with cheaper price points would spark uptake dramatically but market rules were inhibiting EV imports.
He said more incentives for EV uptake in government and corporate fleets would also provide a supply of vehicles to the used car market.
Mr Oglivie said Australia was in danger of falling way behind the rest of the world.
“If you imagine we’re in the Stawell Gift, three-quarters of the way to the finish line, they haven’t even heard the starter’s gun go off,” he said.
The Federal Government should also be looking at the re-establishment of car making in Australia, which has the talent and raw materials to manufacture EVs using robotic production lines, Mr Ogilvie said.
Mr Rattenbury said the federal plan was a missed opportunity that will cost Australians dearly as they continue to miss out on new, more affordable electric vehicle models and instead position Australia as a dumping ground for inefficient vehicles.
“The Federal Government seems to have finally admitted that electric vehicles are not going to ‘wreck the weekend’ and have moved on to pretending they never made this outrageous claim,” he said.
“But the Future Fuels Strategy fails to take the next important step of introducing meaningful measures to support the transition to zero-emissions vehicles.”
Mr Rattenbury supported the push for fuel-efficiency standards as a way to encourage cleaner cars on our roads and accelerate the shift to zero-emissions vehicles.
He welcomed the commitment to fund charging infrastructure, saying it will help deliver rapid chargers on major routes across Australia to enable quick charging on long journeys.
“I also welcome the focus on heavy vehicles and hope that this funding will help to decarbonise our freight sector,” Mr Rattenbury said.
But he said national leadership was sorely needed to support states and territories’ efforts and help make this transition quicker and more efficient.
“National policies such as fuel efficiency standards and a national electric vehicles sales target are critical for this transition as we have observed in other leading countries such as Norway,” he said.
The federal EV plan comes as the ACT Government considers its next steps to increase EV uptake to reduce transport emissions.
Deloitte Access Economics has been engaged to assess the impact of government EV policies, as outlined in the Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement.
These include requiring charging infrastructure for multi-unit residential and commercial buildings as part of planning review proposals, a target for new zero-emissions vehicle sales by 2030 in the ACT, establishing an advisory service to support businesses and community organisations transition their fleets, and developing a masterplan for the installation of 50 new publicly accessible charging stations.
An EPSDD spokesperson said the assessment would assist the development of the 2030 ZEV sales target.
Mr Rattenbury said the Electric Vehicles Charging Masterplan was being finalised and will soon deliver the 50 public vehicle charging stations across the ACT.
“Our incentives of two years’ free registration and stamp duty exemption are helping to drive an increase in uptake of zero-emissions vehicles, with a 34 per cent increase in zero-emissions vehicles on ACT roads since these measures were introduced in May 2021,” he said.
In addition, $15,000 no-interest loans to purchase an EV will be available from early next year through the next phase of the Sustainable Household Scheme.
Deloitte Access Economics is expected to provide a final report and recommendations by 17 February next year.
As of Monday (8 November), there are 1414 battery EVs registered in the ACT and 527 plug-in hybrids.