A majority of Australians would support the introduction of new financial incentives for electric vehicle uptake, including a ban on the purchase of new fossil fuelled vehicles from 2035, leading to calls for the federal government to step in and show leadership on electric vehicle policies.
According to new polling commissioned by The Australia Institute, two in three Australians support the introduction of new subsidies or incentives to support the purchase of an electric vehicle.
Support was strong across the political spectrum, with 65 per cent of Coalition voters, and 64 per cent of Labor voters expressing support for electric vehicle policies that encourage increased uptake.
In addition to backing new electric vehicle incentives, a majority of those polled (57 per cent) said that they would also support a UK-style ban on the sale of new fossil fuelled vehicles from 2035, including 49 per cent of Coalition voters.
Support for a ban on new petrol vehicle sales was strong across all age groups, and was strongest amongst younger drivers, with 69 per cent of those aged 30 to 39 saying they would support a UK-style ban.
“The Government might be dragging its heels on electric vehicle policy but Australians, including Coalition voters, are ready to make the switch,” The Australia Institute’s climate and energy director Richie Merzian said.
“Unlike Scott Morrison, Australians can see that EVs will not ruin the weekend. Australians want the government to make it easier for them to get behind the wheel of an EV and for the sale of petrol cars to be phased out sooner rather than later.”
“A majority of voters across the country and in every age group back these policies but, for some reason, the government is refusing to support the uptake of EVs in Australia in any meaningful way. It’s time to turbo-charge electric vehicle policy in Australia but, when it comes to supporting the transport technologies of the future, this government has its foot firmly on the brake,” Merzian added.
The release of the report comes as independent federal MP Zali Steggall hosted an event at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday, to build support for electric vehicles and invite parliamentarians will hear from representatives of electric vehicle manufacturers and charging infrastructure providers, along with a demonstration of the Mercedes Benz EQC.
The event was organised for the ‘parliamentary friends of climate action’ group, made up of parliamentarians drawn from across the political spectrum.
The event was attended by representatives from most of the federal political parties, including independents Helen Haines, Rebekha Sharkie and Rex Patrick, Greens transport spokesperson Janet Rice, Labor’s shadow assistant minister for the environment Josh Wilson and Liberal party’s Trent Zimmerman who recently expressed support a ban on sales of new petrol fuelled vehicles.
Steggall said that the polling showed that it was clear that there was strong community support for the adoption of electric vehicles, and in particular, for governments to provide financial support and incentives for drivers to switch to electric models.
“This polling shows that the Australian public across the political spectrum have a huge appetite for change. They are ready to move on from internal combustion vehicles to the future of transport,” Steggall said.
“It’s clear the community want more support to make the transition. We absolutely need to reduce the upfront purchase price of these vehicles and provide adequate charging infrastructure to make this change viable to Australian families.”
“Australia would do well to follow the example of the United Kingdom and ban the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030. This line in the sand will send a strong signal to car manufacturers to send zero emissions vehicles to Australia,” Steggall added.
Steggall said there was a clear role for the federal government to step in and show leadership in electric vehicle policy, particularly as state and territory governments start to introduce wildly differing electric vehicle policies, that span from either supporting electric vehicle uptake, through actively discouraging uptake by imposing new taxes.
The ACT government has introduced a range of policies to encourage Canberra drivers to switch to electric vehicles, including a stamp duty exemption on new vehicle purchases, rego fee waivers and access to zero interest loans. The Queensland government has also introduced registration and stamp duty discounts for electric vehicles.
In contrast, the Victorian government unveiled proposed legislation to establish a road use tax on the state’s electric vehicles, posing a tax on battery electric vehicles of 2.5 cents per kilometre driven in an effort to bloster government revenues. The South Australian government is considering its own form of electric vehicle tax, as is the New South Wales government.
“In the absence of Federal co-ordination and action, we have policy chaos. The states are introducing EV taxes which threaten the already small market. The Federal Government has to step up and provide leadership and incentives,” Steggall said.
“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.”