Speaking to stakeholders from the electric vehicle (EV) sector and local government, Independent senator Rex Patrick criticized Prime Minister Scott Morrison for failing to keep his promise on adopting EVs. “The prime minister promised us a national EV strategy to ensure the transition to new vehicle technology and infrastructure is carefully planned and managed. We all felt like we had made a difference; the PM was on board. It is now 1 April 2021. So where are we at?” argued Patrick.
Patrick was one of the members appointed to spearhead the Senate’s inquiry on how best the government can support EVs’ transition and make the Australian market welcoming to EV makers. When the special Senate committee gave Morrison the recommendations, he promised to act upon them. “Unfortunately, there are many around who are in denial of electric vehicles, putting every argument you can think of you know, it’s going to ruin your weekend,” said Patrick during the April Fool’s day meeting with car manufacturers and other EVs marketers.
“Well, at the federal level, outside a couple of trials EVs for the Comcar fleet, there’s not much to report. There’s definitely no national EV strategy,” added Patrick. Recently, the Labor party unveiled a plan to exempt consumers buying EVs worth less than $77,565 from import tax. The administration would also scrap the fringe benefits tax on such vehicles.
This tax exemption would reduce the cost of EVs across the country, except in Victoria, where the local administration introduced a new road tax that would add $5,175 to the cost of new battery-powered cars. That is based on the average costs that the government has themselves said, so it may increase if they decide to increase the 2.5c per kilometer charge,” said Behyad Jafari, Electric Vehicle Council head. Jafari noted that the Australian government could do more, seeing that economies worldwide are devolving EV policies to state and territorial administrations.
“The role of government is not to sit around and be excited by what might happen; it’s to do something. States need to look at stamp duty and the charges they apply to EV owners, then remove them,” added Jafari. “The other thing they can do that the federal government has refused to do is implement their fuel efficiency standard. Based on legal advice we have provided to the states, they can introduce a vehicle emissions standard if the federal government does not.”
“The other thing they should get legal advice on is whether they can ban petrol vehicle sales. That’s what places like California do. They say: We won’t let you register new petrol or diesel vehicle made after a certain day,” Jafari explained. The US is on the verge of building extensive EV infrastructure following President Biden’s pledge of spending millions of dollars to enlarge the EV charging network, among other technologies. The UK, on the other hand, pledges to ban gasoline car sales by 2030.