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Thursday, 18 March 2021 06:59

Australia's electric vehicle policy is firmly stuck in reverse gear Featured

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Australia's electric vehicle policy is firmly stuck in reverse gear Image by Stan Petersen from Pixabay

As the rest of the developed world looks to electric vehicles to help cut their output of greenhouse gases, Australia is firmly in the backseat, looking to the past and attempting to strangle a nascent industry.

It is this kind of attitude that has resulted in Victoria, which often claims to be the most progressive state in the country, announcing a tax on EVs and hybrid plug-in vehicles in November last year, and introducing a bill in the state's lower house on Wednesday to put the impost into law.

[Full disclosure: The writer has been driving an EV since mid-August 2020. However, he would not support a tax on technology that helps curb global warming even if he was not a user.]

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has said he expects price parity between EVs and petrol/diesel vehicle by 2025. Exactly how that will benefit people who want to buy an EV now is unclear.

Coincidentally, that's the same year by which Norway plans to completely phase out sales of fossil-fuel vehicles!

Surprisingly, Australians do not seem to quite favour this kind of tax. A poll by the Australia Institute shows that 62% want the government to introduce subsidies for buying EVs - and this includes 65% of Coalition votes and 64% of Labor voters.

evtable

Courtesy: Simon Holmes à Court

The poll also found that 57% of Australians would like a ban on new sales of fossil-fuel vehicles by 2035; this includes 49% of Coalition voters with 28% opposed, while 65% of Labor voters and 76% of Greens voters back such a move.

Statistics which have been quoted quite often show that that zero- and low-emission vehicles made up only 0.7% of car sales Down Under. The global average is about 4.2%.

Independent MP Zali Steggall was quoted by the AI as saying what is obvious: "The numbers are clear Australia is behind the rest of the world. Only 0.7% of new cars sold in Australia are electric vehicles. In Norway, 75% of all new cars sold are electric vehicles. Way more can be done,”

As seen in the embedded table — for which thanks to Simon Holmes à Court — at least seven other Western countries offer incentives for their residents to buy EVs.

At the 2019 federal election, Labor promised a 50% subsidy on EVs if it was voted in. The Coalition appears unlikely to even consider some kind of concession.

South Australia has also talked of a tax on EVs. though it may face opposition to introducing legislation as Labor and the Greens oppose the policy.

Given the attitudes shown by politicians, companies that make EVs are unlikely to introduce the latest vehicles in this country. After all, they can only sustain production if sales justify it.

Unless there is a change of government federally, it looks very much like anyone wishing to be powered by batteries on the roads will have to fork out their own hard-earned in full.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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