Federal energy and emissions reduction minister says he will not drive an electric vehicle, telling a radio interview on Monday that he requires a large fossil-fuelled SUV to cover the large distances he travels each year.
Asked by 3AW’s Neil Mitchell about whether he drove an electric vehicle, Taylor gave an emphatic answer.
“I’m not driving an electric car,” Taylor said. “I live in regional New South Wales and drive huge distances each year – 60,000 or 70,000 kilometres. So, I need something that can handle the hard roads and the distances.”
Taylor told Mitchell that he drove a five-cylinder, 3.2 litre, Ford Everest.
According to the Green Vehicle Guide, the latest 3.2 litre Ford Everest models have an average fuel consumption of around 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres driven and tailpipe emissions of up to 224 grams per kilometre.
This would suggest Taylor’s personal greenhouse gas emissions from driving his own car sit somewhere between 13 and 16 tonnes per year. That’s roughly the equivalent of Australia’s per capita emissions – and that’s just from driving the Ford Everest.
The comments came on the same day as Taylor unveiled a $2.3 billion subsidy package for Australian fuel refineries, designed to keep the refineries open for at least the next decade.
Under a new Fuel Security Service Payment announced on Monday, the Morrison government will provide up to $2 billion in subsidies to Australia’s last two remaining fuel refineries to ensure they stay open until the end of the decade.
“Fuel powers and moves our economy. And whether you’re a truckie or trader, a farmer or an essential service worker, emergency service worker, having access to the fuel every day when you need it is absolutely crucial,” Taylor said.
The measure includes an additional $300 million to cover the cost of upgrades at Ampol and Viva Energy refineries in Queensland and Victoria, respectively – but the policies form part of a Morrison government budget that provides no new support for electric vehicles or other zero-emissions transport infrastructure.
Taylor represents the New South Wales electorate of Hume, situated just to the north of the ACT. The trip between Canberra and Goulburn, where Taylor lives and maintains an electorate office, is around 100 kilometres.
Goulburn is host to one of Australia’s earliest Telsa supercharging stations, which, when opened in 2015, was the largest in the southern hemisphere. The electorate is also host to a large number of wind and solar projects, against which taylor has been a ferocious campaigner, including fronting a “wind fraud” rally before he entered parliament.
Taylor’s disclosures to the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority show that in 2020, Taylor claimed just over $3,700 in fuel costs and almost $17,400 in lease payments through parliamentary entitlements for a private plated vehicle.
But despite the opportunities to embrace clean energy technologies within his own electorate, Taylor has a history of antagonism directed towards renewables and electric vehicles.
In the lead up to the 2019 federal election, Taylor labelled a proposed Labor party policy that would help ensure new homes had the capability to support electric vehicle charging as a “tax on housing” and claimed that charging an EV with solar would take up to five days. He mocked former leader Bill Shorten’s EV policy in this tweet.
— Angus Taylor MP (@AngusTaylorMP) April 6, 2019
Taylor also used questionable analysis prepared as part of a ‘future fuels’ strategy to attack electric vehicles, exaggerating the cost of electric vehicles and underplaying their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A growing number of vehicle manufacturers have cited Australian government transport policies as being a key barrier to greater uptake of electric vehicles.
Electric vehicles represented just 0.7 per cent of new car sales in Australia in 2020, while the market share rose above 10 per cent in both Germany and the United Kingdom in the same year.
Australia has lagged behind international peers in electric vehicle uptake, with some manufacturers not offering electric models at all in Australia, despite growing interest amongst the Australian public.
Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney. Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in the renewable energy sector for more than a decade.