ACT energy minister Shane Rattenbury has called on state governments to abandon plans to slug electric vehicles with new taxes, arguing now was the time to embrace zero emissions transport.
In an address to the Smart Energy Conference in Sydney, Rattenbury said that it was “extraordinary” that some jurisdictions were introducing policies that discourage electric vehicle uptake.
“It is extraordinary to me that some jurisdictions are disincentivising EVs at a time when they comprise less than 1% of new vehicle sales and we really need to be encouraging their rapid uptake” Rattenbury said.
“The introduction of road user charging targeting EV’s has been widely panned as ‘the worst electric vehicle policy in the world’, and it is hard to argue against that view.”
“The global vehicle market is shifting and we need to position ourselves to ride this wave of change and get the best outcomes for our communities and local industries,” Rattenbury added.
Several Australian state governments are considering the introduction of new road user taxes specifically targeted at electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
Ministers advocating for the new charges argue they are necessary as electric vehicle drivers avoid paying fuel excise tariffs and revenue is needed to maintain road infrastructure.
As referenced by Rattenbury, the Victorian government’s proposal to tax electric vehicles up to 2.5 cents per kilometre driven has been described by EV advocates as the ‘world’s worst EV policy‘.
Rattenbury said that the ACT government was focused on finding ways to reduce emissions from the territory’s transport sector – which is now the largest contributor to the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint following a switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity.
“There is no single answer to cutting transport emissions – we need to improve cycling and walking infrastructure, boost public transport services and encouraging the uptake of zero emissions vehicles. Improved bus services, expansion of light rail and support for bikes and e-scooters are all part of a comprehensive approach,” Rattenbury said.
“We need to encourage the community to avoid using their cars where possible and to choose public transport or active travel such as riding, walking, or scooting to work.”
“But even with these measures, a significant shift to zero emissions vehicles will be required,” Rattenbury added.
The ACT government has introduced a range of policy measures to support electric vehicle purchases, including discounts on vehicle registration fees and funding the installation of new charging stations throughout Canberra.
“The ACT Government has introduced among the most generous package of incentives and supports in Australia to encourage uptake of zero emission transport options,” Rattenbury said.
“We are supporting Canberrans to purchase Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) through incentives such as stamp duty exemption, 2 years free registration and zero interest loans of up to $15,000. An additional 50 publicly available charging stations will also be built across the city to support the anticipated increase in zero emissions vehicles,” Rattenbury added.
The ACT government has also become the operator of Australia’s first fleet of hydrogen fuelled vehicles. Australia’s first publicly available hydrogen refuelling station was opened in the ACT in March, and has become on of the first facilities accredited under a new ‘guarantee of origin’ scheme as a renewable hydrogen facility.
“The station takes advantage of the 100 percent renewable electricity to produce green hydrogen and will service 20 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles in the ACT Government fleet,” Rattenbury told the conference.
“I was delighted that this project is the first one looked at under the Smart Energy Council’s Zero Carbon Certification Scheme, a national industry-led certification scheme for renewable hydrogen, ammonia and metal manufacture.”