Queensland transport minister Mark Bailey says that everything is on the table, including the electric vehicle incentives introduced by other states and nations, as the Palaszczuk government works up its new zero emissions EV strategy. But there will not be road user charges – at least, not yet.
Speaking at the virtual Queensland Smart Energy Summit on Tuesday, Bailey said that while the state’s budget had been “smashed up” by the ongoing repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government was keen to deliver a “considerable strengthening” of its current policy settings.
The minister pointed to the state’s previous record on support for EVs, including its Electric Super Highway, a network of state-wide EV fast chargers the government last month announced it would expand from 31 sites to a total of 49, with a further $2.75 million in funding.
But he said that efforts to rein in Queensland’s transport sector emissions, which currently accounted for the second-largest piece of the state’s carbon pie, at 13%, had to be ramped up to accelerate the shift from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles, in line with a net-zero emissions by 2050 target.
So how would this be done? Bailey said the government was currently working with a range of industry groups and would take a collaborative approach to new policy settings on EVs – including taking into account the 4,500-plus responses received through a recent online survey.
“This government’s leading the way where we can, as a state government, but we’re also monitoring trends and incentives, nationally and internationally, for those future policy decisions. We’re also encouraging and supporting emerging technologies and businesses [to] contribute.
“We dropped extra money on the Super Highway in the budget, of course, and we’ve looked at other states and what they’ve been doing there, you know, all of that’s on the table to look at,” Bailey told the Summit.
But the minister stressed that the one policy the state would not be looking at, for now, was a road user charge, such as the controversial tax introduced by Victoria’s Labor Andrews government from July 01, this year, that charges EV drivers 2.5 cents per kilometre travelled.
“We’ve got to get the price point down on electric vehicles, that’s something I’m very interested in, and I’ve advocated for, and there’s no point, I believe, going to user charging, for instance, until you’ve got the momentum, until the momentum is inexorable.
“It will get to this point where everyone wants one, and everyone gets it, and knows how good electric vehicles are, but we’re nowhere near that right now, and we need to get there as early as we can,” Bailey said.
“I was a very strong opponent, from day one, of road user charging, until we got momentum going. I agree with New South Wales on a range of things, but they [have held] it off until 2027. I support that, I think that was sensible.
“You know, let’s get the momentum going, and the units out the door, and it can’t be reversed, and then you can talk about changing other parts of the package,” he said.
As well as its road user charge, Victoria’s Labor government has inctroduced a $3,000 zero emissions vehicle rebate to drive EV uptake in the state.
New South Wales, meanwhile, has unveiled Australia’s most ambitious suite of EV policies, to date, spending $490 million on boosting their uptake. The policy package includes stamp duty waivers for electric vehicles priced under $78,000 – just below the luxury car tax threshold – and an additional $3,000 rebate for the first 25,000 purchases of battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with a price below $68,750.