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The Greens push for strict federal EV legislation

Greener pastures: Under the Greens’ suggested measures, EVs would have short-term exemptions to import tariffs, the GST, stamp duty and registration fees to encourage adoption.

Fossil fuel ban, EV tax breaks, strict emission standards set under Greens proposal

13 Mar 2018

THE Australian Greens have proposed a wide-ranging federal electric-vehicle policy that seeks to ban fossil-fuel passenger cars from sale, while ushering in tax breaks for zero-emission vehicles, and strict emission standards over the next 12 years.

Specifically, the party has called for traditional petrol- and diesel-powered cars to be barred from purchase by 2030, following similar goals recently set by India and the Netherlands.

This timeline is consistent with the Paris Agreement that aims to keep global warming to less than two degrees and zero-net emissions by 2050 as the average Australian car stays on the road for about 18-to-20 years.

To ease the EV introduction, the Greens have proposed that the five per cent import tariff (applicable to new vehicles imported from countries without an existing free-trade agreement), 10 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) and stamp duty (up to 6.5 per cent, varies by state or territory) be waived for such vehicles in the short term.

Additionally, EVs would be exempt from registration fees for their first three years, equating to a saving of $1500 to $3000 per vehicle depending on the state or territory involved.

As a result, the driveaway price of EVs would be reduced by up to 20 per cent, making them more affordable and more competitive against their fossil-fuel counterparts.

The loss of revenue otherwise generated by these taxes would be compensated by a four-year 17 per cent tax on wholly petrol and diesel luxury passenger cars that cost more than $65,000, which would be in addition to the current 33 per cent Luxury Car Tax (LCT).

Speaking to GoAuto, Electric Vehicle Council chief executive officer Behyad Jafari praised the Greens for its foresight, highlighting the importance of the policy announcement to the EV industry.

“First and foremost, what we really congratulate is that the Greens now have a nationally coordinated policy to support the transition to electric vehicles,” he said.

“The fundamental point that we’ve asked every government and political party across Australia to have is to recognise this is something that is occurring and you have a role to play in it and work with the industry to come up with a solution.

“The detail of their policy is a very ambitious one. Pragmatically speaking, you recognise that the role that the Greens play inside of parliament means that is likely this entire policy will be the one to pass – possibly not – but what it does do is set a pretty strong benchmark for where Australia can go.”

Currently, the federal government is considering a mandatory carbon dioxide emissions standard of 105 grams per kilometre by 2025, but the Greens suggests that this target be brought forward to 2022 with a three-year phase-in from 2020.

Such strong measures would encourage car-makers to import EV models – some of which already exist – to Australia sooner, while also spurring on the uptake of low-emission petrol and diesel vehicles.

Furthermore, major manufacturers would be required to set increasing annual sales targets for EV passenger cars, with the Greens proposing goals of two per cent by 2020, five per cent by 2021 and 10 per cent by 2022. The local EV market accounted for less than 0.001 per cent of all new vehicles sold last year.

This policy would be consistent with those in place in China and California, while the suggested annual volume targets are based on sales figures from Norway between 2012 and 2014.

Failure to comply with these goals would result in a large penalty that would be sufficient enough to incentivise compliance.

“What we’ve been seeing and hearing from governments is that if we do nothing, we expect that electric vehicles will have a market share of around 10 per cent by 2030,” Mr Jafari added.

“We should be doing something to make sure we’re at least on par with the rest of the world in their uptake, and the Greens have come up with an even stronger policy than that so to make sure that we’re one of the leading countries.”

Meanwhile, the Greens have proposed the establishment of a $151 million fund that would provide grants for the installation of public EV charging stations, with priority given to fast-charging set-ups that deliver 80 per cent charge within about 15 to 30 minutes.

The federal government would make matched contributions up to $45,000 per station, which would result in more than 3000 stations being added to the current EV charging network across Australia.

According to Mr Jafari, such a scheme is essential to the EV revolution, helping to remove any trepidation that the private sector might have in moving forward.

“With charging infrastructure, there is a huge amount of private investment and interest, but it’s being held back right now by a little bit of uncertainty,” he said.

“There is a little bit of market failure in there saying ‘we know we need to build the charging infrastructure first so that people will buy the cars and drive them – and that’s how we’re going to make our money.’

“But the question in there for us is how long is Australia going to take to catch up, because the rest of the world has been growing exponentially and nothing has been happening in this market.

“This is really providing that certainty to the private sector that we’re going to do something about it and we’re going to start this transition in Australia as well.

“So come and start making your investments, building things, creating jobs here in Australia, because it is going to happen inside of a shorter time frame.”

Several brands have been vocal in their support for local EV incentives over the past few years, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Nissan, while Volkswagen has warned they will artificially distort the market.

“What we ask governments to do is have a plan, and part of that plan is to provide some short-term incentives … but they are only a piece of the puzzle,” Mr Jafari added.

“What those incentives are there for is to provide both the people importing cars here and building infrastructure here that certainty that it is going to be money well spent, because we are going to go down this track within the next five to 10 years.”

The Greens’ policy announcement follows the South Australian Labor government’s promise last month that stamp duty and five years of registration fees will be waived for EVs if it is re-elected.

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