The Western Australia Labor government has set aside nearly $60 million of its 2022-23 State Budget to boost the uptake of zero emissions vehicles in the state, including a $3,500 rebate for purchasing an electric or hydrogen fuel cell car.
However, Western Australia will also be introducing a distance-based road user charge for zero and low-emission light vehicles, although it will not take effect until July 1, 2027, “to ensure all motorists pay their fair share towards the maintenance and construction of WA roads.”
The McGowan government is providing $36.5 million to provide up to 10,000 rebates of $3,500 each to Western Australians who purchase a new electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle valued at under $70,000.
“My Labor government is taking climate action to secure WA’s low carbon future,” said Mark McGowan, the WA Premier.
“Building on our $750 million Climate Action Fund that was announced last year, we are implementing further initiatives to significantly reduce our carbon emissions and progress towards net zero emissions.
“Our $3,500 rebates are one of the most generous grants on offer in the nation and will see an extra 10,000 electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on our roads.
“This will assist WA with reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, while also reducing the pressure of high petrol prices on WA households that utilise the rebate.”
A further $22.6 million will go twards expanding WA’s electric vehicle charging network, including $10 million to support non-profits and small and medium-sized businesses with grants of up to 50% of the cost of installing new EV charging infrastructure.
Also included is $5 million to support local governments to install charging infrastructure, again for up to 50% of the cost, and another $4 million for the Western Australian Public Transport Authority to trial electric vehicle charging infrastructure at four train stations, including up to 20 bays per car park with commuter charging access.
A final $2.9 million will be allocated for eight new charging stations across four locations on a section of National Highway 1 between Norseman and Eucla to ensure that the state’s electric highway extends through to South Australia.
To offset the costs and “to ensure all motorists pay their fair share towards the maintenance and construction of WA roads,” Western Australia will introduce a distance-based user charge for zero and low emission light vehicles.
“So unfortunately, we have to fund the roads, we have to put money into maintenance, and we have to have a funding source for that,” McGowan said.
Set to commence from July 1, 2027, the charge is set at a base rate of 2.5 cents per kilometre for electric and hydrogen vehicles, and 2 cents per kilometre for plugin hybrid EVs, with both rates indexed to the Consumer Price Index.
Unfortunately, as McGowan conceded, this meant that the fee might be 3 cents per kilometre by the time July 2027 rolls around.
Western Australia will therefore invest $200,000 to develop options designed to monitor and collect this future road user charge.
Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia have all announced similar road user chargers for EV drivers which are due to come into effect in mid-2027. Victoria’s road user charge is already in place.
Governments justify road user charges for EV owners, considering they avoid the 44.2 cent fuel excise tax imposed on motorists who purchase petrol and diesel at the bowser, while nevertheless still driving on the roads and highways paid for in part by the fuel excise tax.
“All that being said, a $3500 rebate for vehicles up to $70,000 is an encouraging start. It’s reminiscent of some other rebates we’ve seen in other markets around the country. The additional funding for EV charging stations will also mean it’s more convenient for more motorists to make the switch.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.