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Labor promises $57m EV strategy

Green Leaf: Components for Nissan’s all-electric Leaf are made at the company’s casting plant in Dandenong South, in Melbourne’s southeast.

‘Green shoots’ in Australian EV industry can be grown: Carr

13 May 2019

THE Australian Labor Party has promised to inject $57 million into a fund to support development and manufacturing of electric vehicles and related components and charging infrastructure if it wins government on May 18.


The Electric Vehicle Manufacturing and Innovation Strategy is part of Labor’s National Electric Vehicle (EV) policy, sitting alongside Labor’s EV target of 50 per cent of new-vehicle sales by 2030.


Announcing the policy in a joint statement with other shadow ministers, Labor’s innovation, industry, science and research spokesman Senator Kim Carr pointed to a number of Australian companies already involved in the EV industry.


“These green shoots can grow into new jobs and opportunities for export if the government stops pulling them up by the roots,” he said.  
“The Liberals goaded the major car manufacturers to leave Australia, but much of the supply chain has remained and can be rebuilt to service the new EV and component manufacturing industry.  
“Labor will strengthen Australia’s global role as a research and development and testing centre and extend our manufacturing capabilities in all vehicles using EV technology.”


The Liberal Party hit back, with industry minister Karen Andrews saying the car industry in Australia had been doomed during Senator Carr’s last stint as industry minister.


“Kim Carr and Labor like to blame others for the closure of auto manufacturers in Australia, but the fact is the fate of Australian auto production was already sealed when Senator Carr himself was industry minister,” she said.


“Labor makes grand promises that are never delivered and Aussie taxpayers are left to pay for it. Labor’s history on manufacturing speaks for itself, under the last Labor government one in eight manufacturing jobs were lost.”


Senator Carr was industry minister when Ford announced the closure of its Victorian manufacturing plant in 2013, but the coalition was in power seven months later when Australia’s two biggest car-makers – Toyota and Holden – announced their departure from local manufacturing.


Earlier this year, Senator Carr was a member of the Senate select committee on Electric Vehicles that urged government action on a national EV strategy, handing down 17 recommendations.


The Labor strategy announced last week appears to be in line with those recommendations.


Mr Carr named a number of companies already involved in the EV industry, saying that Nissan made parts for the electric Leak in Melbourne, SEA Electric refitted heavy vehicles for electric propulsion, ACE EV made small EVs in Queensland and Bosch built recharging infrastructure in Melbourne, while Brisbane was the home to one of the  world’s leading manufacturers of EV charging stations, Tritium.


He said Toyota was developing hydrogen fuels in Melbourne and Ford and Holden were heavily invested in global design and engineering in Victoria.


The EV strategy will be part of Labor’s promised $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Future Fund.


Labor says the strategy is designed to help companies create design and manufacturing jobs in electric and hydrogen automotive plants. 


It says it will appoint a supplier advocate to be the coordinator and face of the overall transition plan and promote Australia’s capabilities and attract investment.


This appears to be similar to the appointment of former Victorian premier Steve Bracks as an exports advocate for the Australian auto parts industry.


Labor has promised $30 million for EV research and development, as well as a further $25 million for the local EV components sector.


“Labor will establish a tripartite Electric Vehicle Innovation Council to bring industry, unions, government and researchers together to develop a national EV innovation roadmap and will map the broader EV supply chain and identify priority investments and actions,” the statement said.


Along with support for the EV industry and R&D, the Labor strategy covers concerns about access to charging points and safety, saying EV charging in homes and commercial buildings would be incorporated in Australian standards and in future revisions to the national construction code.


As GoAuto has reported, the peak body for the Australian motor industry, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, has said it would take a lot of effort to resurrect mass manufacturing of vehicles in Australia, but that Australian companies were well placed to take a major role in the development for EVs for global markets.

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