Plans to introduce a “user charge” for South Australian electric vehicle drivers have been pushed out by 12 months, beyond the state’s next election, extending some breathing room to the local EV market and making it much less likely the controversial tax will be adopted in that state at all.
South Australia, a world leader in the shift to renewable energy, has been threatening to introduce a form of tax on electric vehicles for some months now, followed by Victoria and New South Wales, despite the fact that EV uptake in Australia lags well behind the rest of the world.
Victoria advanced its own threats of a tax in November of last year, when Labor state treasurer Tim Pallas revealed that the Labor government would charge EV owners 2.5 cents per kilometre, and plug-in hybrid owners 2 cents per kilometre from July 1, 2021.
South Australia had aimed to do the same, but in comments to the Legislative Council on Thursday, Liberal state Treasurer Rob Lucas said the scheduled introduction date had been pushed out to July 2022, because the Marshall government wanted to see the final details of Victoria’s legislation and see it introduced in that state.
“We had hoped that the legislation might have been introduced last month, but that hasn’t eventuated,” Lucas said when asked by a member of his own party about the progress made on introducing the road user charge.
“The introduction of the proposed legislation will still continue for the imminent future – that is, in the period up to or including this year’s budget,” he added.
“But for the scheduled introduction date, if it were to be approved by the parliament, instead of 1 July this year it will be extended to 1 July next year.”
Crucially, this pushes the introduction of the legislation to out past the next state election, which is due in March, 2022, making the already controversial EV tax an election issue, and opening the door for any new government to scrap it before it even starts.
Lucas said the consultation period for the proposed legislation had been extended, too, and – when asked by the South Australia Greens’ Mark Parnell who would be consulted and how – said a list of groups would be written to on Friday, with a copy of the consultation paper.
“They include a significant number of groups who have expressed views either for or against a road user charge: some great friends of mine and, I suspect, possibly friends of the Hon. Mr Parnell. The Conservation Council, for example, is amongst the long list of groups to be consulted,” Lucas said.
“It is the obvious groups, such as road industry organisations like the RAA, the Electric Vehicle Council nationally, manufacturers, industry organisations, conservation and conservation-related groups.
“Also, as from tomorrow a copy of the consultation draft will be placed on the Treasury website,” Lucas added.
“The government’s final position in relation to the shape and nature of its legislation will be influenced significantly by what is introduced in Victoria, and New South Wales if anything were to be introduced there as well.
“As I said, the overriding objective is to try to achieve the greatest level of consistency we can between the South Australian legislation and the legislation that might exist in our biggest Eastern States neighbours, Victoria and possibly New South Wales.”