Energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor is trying to encourage Australians to choose hybrid vehicles over battery electric vehicles, in an extraordinary policy discussion paper that flies into the face of the rapid transition to EVs across the world.
Taylor formally released the government’s “future fuels” discussion paper on Friday morning (the minister could not even bring himself to use the words electric vehicles in the title).
It is largely based around the earlier leaked version revealed by The Driven and RenewEconomy in December, only this time accompanied by some contentious claims about emissions reductions and Taylor’s push for a hybrid-first transition.
Taylor makes it clear that there will be no federal government incentives for EVs, and not even any fuel emissions standards – leaving Australia as one of the only countries in the world without one.
(A proposal put forward a few years ago by then energy minister Josh Frydenberg was rapidly withdrawn when the Murdoch media slammed it as a “carbon tax on wheels, even though Australia’s luck of fuel standards means it has become a dumping ground for inefficient vehicles and Australians pay as much as $600 in extra fuel costs because of it).
Taylor echoes the fleet-first policy put forward by Labor last election, but insists that such fleets should transition through hybrids first, and then electric vehicles – even though many independent studies shows EVs are already competitive in leasing arrangements.
“My point about fleets is, that’s where the best value comes from moving to hybrids and ultimately electric vehicles, it’ll come there first,” Taylor said on ABC’s Radio National.
“And, you know, this will facilitate that uptake. But you know, throwing huge amounts of money when we could get data value for money elsewhere. And subsidies, I understand that industries, themselves, want them because they get the money they put in their pockets, it’s understandable. But the truth is our job as a government is to make sure we get value for money.”
The discussion paper drew a withering response from the EV industry, and EV advocates. The Electric Vehicle Council described it as a “flaccid, do nothing” policy that went agains the grain of developments overseas.
“Global leaders from (Joe) Biden to Boris (Johnson) are rushing to accelerate their transition to electric vehicles, but Angus Taylor reckons he knows something they don’t,” EVC chief executive Behyad Jafari said.
“The Prime Minister should have put Mr Taylor on the line to Joe Biden this week. He could have told the President why his electric vehicle plan is misguided. Mr Taylor might have clarified why his modelling shows the top recommendation of the International Energy Agency should be rejected.
“A rapid transition to electric vehicles would clean our city air, drastically reduce our carbon emissions, and free us from our insecure dependence on foreign oil imports. Mr Taylor is apparently happy to leave all those benefits on the table and cement Australia’s reputation as the world’s transport tech laggard.”
“While the United States and Europe are accelerating electric vehicle uptake, the Federal Government has its foot firmly on the brakes. What we need is an electric vehicles policy roadmap to ensure everyday Australians can benefit from the major savings and clean air that electric vehicles can deliver.
“Instead of incentivising electric vehicles by removing import taxes and lowering registration costs and stamp duty, like in the EU and US, Minister Taylor has announced nothing. This inertia is apparently because these incentives are deemed ‘not cost effective’, which conveniently is a metric not used when subsidising the fossil fuel industry.
“With the money the Federal Government recently put towards road upgrades to access the Beetaloo gas basin, they could have transitioned the entire Federal Government vehicle fleet to electric, with cash to spare.”
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