Transport emissions are increasing in Australia and produce almost 20% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 60% of that is from cars alone. Consequently, rapid growth of alternatives including electric vehicles (EV) is an environmental policy area of interest this election. As fuel prices and momentum on climate change rise, pressure is building for governments to provide incentives and policies to ease the switch from traditional fuel engines to cleaner vehicles.
Current policy proposals from each party offer different strategies and pathways / offer different avenues for such a transition.
The current Coalition Government announced $250 million to be invested in electric vehicles, mainly to support EV charging infrastructure. Building infrastructure alone delivers no tax or other financial support for Australians to make the switch.In July 2021 the government also invested $260 million to increase its diesel reserves, notably more than the investment in EV.
Labor has announced plans to introduce an Electric Car Discount to come in effect in July 2022. A major component of the discount is to exempt many electric cars from import tariffs (5% tax on some imported EV cars) and fringe benefits (a 47% tax on EV that are provided through work for private use). These exemptions will only be for cars below the luxury car threshold ($77,565, as of 2021), aiming to encourage car manufacturers to supply more affordable EV models to Australia. These incentives will cost the government around $200 million over three years, it’s unclear what percentage of this will go to infrastructure or to discounts.
The Greens launched a “Spark the EV Revolution” campaign, a plan to institute a range of incentives and subsidies to make electric vehicles affordable to everyone. The Greens plan to remove stamp and registration duty on all new EVs, remove import tariffs and waive registration fees for the first three years of ownership. To pay for these purchase incentives, the party plans to implement a 17% luxury fossil fuel car tax on the value of all fossil fuel light vehicles over $65K for the next four years. They have also pledged to spend $151 million on fast charging infrastructure.
Leaders in EV technology have started to announce phase out dates for new sales of fossil fuel cars, including Norway (2025), The Netherlands (2030), India (2030) and the UK (2040). The Netherlands has had the most take up to date, with EV currently making up more than one in four vehicles on the road. A stronger commitment like this from Australia would see manufacturers prioritizing the delivery of newer, cheaper models to Australian markets. Accessibility is a key element, otherwise EV technology will remain a luxury commodity and represent inequality rather than the way to our renewable future.