In a scene reminiscent of the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ (where we Earthings were at fault for not registering an objection in time before the Earth was demolished to make way for a space freeway) – VicRoads recently sent a letter to drivers warning them that their electric vehicles could be taken off the roads.
The letter was sent barely 3 weeks after the rushed implementation of the Victorian so-called EV road tax, and was sent to EV owners yet to register their odometer readings.
It warned them that their EV is to be deregistered on August 4 if they do not comply. But the absurdity is that it is in fact impossible for many people to do so.
Given the rushed-in nature of this world’s first regressive, anti-climate and anti-EV tax – it is hardly surprising there are teething problems.
However, instead of admitting their poorly implemented system is in trouble, it seems the Victorian Government is setting out to blame EV owners and criminalise their failure to register EV odometer readings.
To those in Victoria not owning an EV (and to readers in the rest of the world) – a quick explainer is needed as to how Victoria’s vehicle registration and licencing system works:
The body responsible for maintaining the database of licensed persons and vehicles on the road in Victoria is VicRoads. VicRoads send by mail all registration and licencing renewals and information, or, if the resident elects to do so, it forwards these communications electronically (by email).
For those matters requiring physical visits (such as checking VIN numbers before registering a vehicle and driver’s licence tests or renewals) physical offices are scattered around the city and regional areas to enable these unavoidable physical visits.
However – when it comes to EV owners, the option to mail-in their odometer details is forbidden and only two ways to register your odometer reading are allowed. These are:
- To register for an online VicRoads account and send in a digital photo that can be checked for image manipulation (AND forcing the resident to do ALL VicRoads transactions – including payments – electronically from that point) or
- to physically attend an office to lodge the demanded odometer photo.
First of all – what happens to those who either cannot (or don’t want to) provide VicRoads with a mobile number AND an email account?
(Both of these are mandatory fields in the application for the account – no allowance is made for people without one or both – with no tick-box to receive communications by mail if you don’t want email notifications).
The only other option is to physically attend a VicRoads office with photo in hand. Given this is not something that should need physical attendance – why, in the time of Covid and its government mandated restrictions, are EV owners told to attend the office to do something that could easily be covered with a form?
At its ‘kindest’, VicRoads is trying to get away with implementing, without any form of consultation, a mandatory online transaction system – starting with EV owners.
However, given the overall treatment of Victorian EV owners as compared to the other Australian states – it is more likely that the Victorian Government is aware of the great anger from EV owners over the rushed and unfair nature of this tax and is extrapolating this quite justified anger to their insulting treatment of EV owners as to all be ‘presumed guilty’ of image manipulation and/or false statements re their odometer readings.
Given the minimal income that this tax will receive in its first few years versus the cost of the bureaucracy and systems needed to implement and monitor it – it would seem vastly more efficient, simple AND provide more income in the meantime to just drop the current $100 Victorian registration rebate for EVs.
In that way the Victorian government could study other Road User Tax systems such as the coming one for NSW, as well as the Road User Tax already in place in NZ (who also defer any Road User Tax for EVs until they reach certain market percentage milestones) … and in the meantime developing a workable system for implementing it.
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.