The federal Liberal Party has launched a new and extraordinary anti-electric vehicle campaign, raising fears of a repeat of the ludicrous and misleading claims made by the federal Coalition in the lead up to the last federal election in May, 2019.
Senator Zed Seselja, the minister for international development and the Pacific, has authored a letter-box campaign targeting the ACT government’s incentives for electric vehicles, most notably its pre-election promise of free registration for electric vehicle owners.
Apparently, this is too much for the ACT-based right winger Seselja, a frequent critic also of renewable energy incentives who has also argued that Australia should quit the Paris climate treaty. Seselja says EV subsidies favours only rich consumers.
It turns out that Seselja actually launched this campaign on his Facebook page in May.
“The Labor-Greens Government are giving free rego to those who can afford a $100,000 electric car, while making those who can’t afford it pay full price. I think this is completely unfair,” he wrote on the Facebook post.
In the letter box drop, he goes a few steps further, suggesting that the “average” price of EVs is $107,950 and “simply out of reach for most Canberra families.”
As many commenting on that Facebook post pointed out, the ad is deliberately misleading. It’s not the “average price”, but the “median” price, which is completely different. The median price for petrol cars is probably around the same for EVs if you count the different models of Rolls Royce, Bentley, Maserati and Lotus cars.
The “average” price is different, and while EVs are, on average, more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents, most EVs sold are priced at $70,000 or below. (The MG electric SUV was recently priced at $40,999 before on roads).
Bizarrely, the advertisement doesn’t even feature a car in Australia. It features a man driving a left hand drive car, so is likely from Europe (where the EV incentives are even greater) or the US, and is breaking the law by being on the phone (assuming he is actually driving).
It is not even clear if the car is electric. The only recognisable feature of the photo is that the man is what some many imagine a Liberal voter might look like.
The campaign against EV policies in the ACT – a result of the pre-election campaign promises by Labor and the Greens – is ironic given that NSW Liberals have gone several steps further, providing an exemption to stamp duty and a $3,000 rebate for the first 25,000 cars – although these are limited to vehicles that cost less than $68,000.
It also comes amid news of the first federal Liberal MP to buy an EV, Victorian-based Katie Allen who has a Tesla Model 3, as does NSW Liberal energy minister Matt Kean, one of the main driver’s behind what is now the country’s most progressive EV policy.
It remains to be seen if federal energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor will take the cue from Seselja and reprise his relentless and misleading anti-EV rhetoric that became one of the most depressing aspects of the last election campaign.
But the signs are not good, and Taylor’s department could barely bring itself to mention EVs in its “future fuels strategy” (dubbed FFS), and the government’s main road transport initiative has been a $2.3 billion subsidy to support the country’s last two oil refineries, much of which will go straight into Ampol shareholders’ pockets.
And if Seselja and his followers are unable to cope with the idea of free registration for EVs, what hope is there that the Coalition government will follow with its own incentives to match those of the federal Labor, still keen to deliver tax relief, particularly for the business leasing market that accounts for half of new car sales in Australia.
Note: We asked Senator Seselja’s office about the origin of the photo, and we will let you know if we get a reply.