Thursday, 24 November 2022
Treasury Laws Amendment (Electric Car Discount) Bill 2022; Second Reading
Malcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source
As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia I speak to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Electric Car Discount) Bill 2022. The history of climate change and related energy bills is replete with terrible governance, shoddy governance, deceitful governance. There have been genuine errors made, there have been decisions taken on greed and self-interest, contradicting the science, and now we have inappropriate market manipulation from a cynical, meddling government. This bill is designed to force the uptake of electric vehicles. What hubris, what deceit—and who pays? As always, the people are paying.
How can the Albanese government ignore the critical shortage of minerals essential to producing this many electric vehicles? Lithium has been a global arms race fought between electric vehicles and Labor's other loves: batteries, solar panels and wind turbines. There's not enough lithium on earth for one of these follies, let alone all four. Stuart Crow, chair of Lake Resources, said:
There simply isn't going to be enough lithium on the face of the planet, regardless of who expands and who delivers, it just won't be there.
So what's the government's plan to handle the lithium shortage in the electronics industry as net zero sucks up supply of cobalt, lithium and copper? Demand inflation will force these resources up in price over the next few years. How's the government going to explain to citizens why their phones, laptops and household goods have been made unaffordable from so-called sustainable, green technologies? By the way, have you noticed how United Nations World Economic Forum sustainability programs can exist only with subsidies, meaning they're not sustainable?
Back to the point, the engineering boundaries are real, and wishy-washy responses about finding new solutions don't work when the best solution, lithium, is being wasted on the vanity of net zero. Labor's much-hyped goal of net zero for 2050 will run out of charge between 2025 and 2030, when lithium supplies are predicted to dry up.
This shortage is already manifested in mineral prices. In 2020 lithium was $6,000 per tonne. Today, what is it? I'll tell you: it's sitting around $78,000 per time, 13 times higher. Everything this precious resource is being wasted on will be sitting in landfill before 2050. I say it again: everything this precious resource is being wasted on will be sitting in landfill, buried before 2050. Every wind turbine, every solar panel, every big battery, every home battery—all of it rotting while the earth and its oceans are torn apart to feed the monstrous dream of net zero through the strip mining of the seabed for rare earth minerals that are necessary for the production of these follies.
Even electric vehicle manufacturers admit to being in trouble. The World Economic Forum, whose policies seem to find their way into Australian legislation, thinks we need five billion electric vehicles to achieve net zero. That's not five billion through to 2050; that is five billion every five to 10 years for ever. No wonder you're looking startled; this is news to most people in this room. The reason electric vehicles are so damn expensive is that, in manufacturing electric vehicles, they are resource and energy hogs. They are resource guzzlers with a huge environmental footprint, far greater than petrol and diesel cars. These price hikes, which have already started, are set to push almost all purely electric vehicles beyond the luxury car threshold required to qualify for Labor's amendment to the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act.
After the amendment moved by the Greens and Senator Pocock goes through, in 2025 hybrids will no longer be included in the bill. Price inflation will ensure not much else will be either. When President Biden gave a $7,000 subsidy, the first thing that happened? Car manufacturers put up their prices by $7,000. Subsidies make things dearer, not cheaper. They shift the price label but not the affordability. Perhaps some cheaper EVs that are made in China and that may or may not still be working in 2030 will benefit.
Labor could, of course, raise the threshold, but at what point do we say that big business is being given a subsidy from working Australians to buy luxury vehicles? Our European friends are a decade ahead of us in this madness. They've dismissed policies like this as expensive, wasteful and counterproductive. Their conclusion is that government interference benefits rich companies at the expense of natural market competition. It's why German finance minister Christian Lindner said:
We simply cannot afford misguided subsidies anymore. These cars have so far been subsidised over their lifetime with up to 20,000 euros, even for top earners. That's too much. We can save billions there, which we can use more sensibly.
Germans are saying this.
This bill for luxury foreign electric vehicles is designed to fix a number on Labor's spreadsheet of carbon dioxide output. It's not to assist a transition to electric vehicles for the general public. The fastest rise in product quality occurred when electric vehicles were forced to compete on merit against their oil and gas hydrocarbon fuelled betters. It was only then, when the customer was king, that their price came down. Their quality went up and their range increased slightly. When European governments handed the electric vehicle market billions in subsidies, car manufacturers grew fat and lazy. They took the money, slacked off on development and raised their prices knowing that public money would cover the difference. This is transferring wealth from taxpayers to electric vehicle manufacturers.
Labor's bill is more of the same failed economics that fundamentally misunderstands what drives success. Given the price dynamics at play, if anything this bill penalises full electric vehicles and preferences hybrids. At the same time hybrids begin to win the consumer war, this government's net-zero policies are pushing up the price of fuel and leaving every car owner worse off. We're quickly reaching a point where car ownership will become a rare privilege that won't impact at all anyone in this chamber, yet it will make the lives of everyday Australians an intolerable misery. As Norway, the world's premier electric vehicle buyer, has stated, they want to reduce individual car ownership and see their population walk or catch public transport. The United Nations World Economic Forum EV policy is not about having different cars; it's about no cars—no cars. Good luck telling Australian tradies that, but that's what will happen.
These EVs have no resale value because they tend to be sold when the batteries are cooked. If we're talking about sustainability, electric vehicles are on a swift path to landfill, unlike conventional cars that have many lives and many owners. To get electricity consumption down in order to improve range, EVs are made of composite materials, aluminium and plastics. Most of the steel in the subframe is needed to hold the extra weight of the battery. Recycling is, of course, possible, although with the price of electricity in Australia, thanks to weather-dependent solar and wind driving up power prices, our recycling industry is struggling. Think about this: much like used plastics, glass, solar panels and wind turbines, EVs will not be recycled beyond their copper wires and the little steel that has been used. If electric vehicles are a less desirable product at a terrible price heading towards extinction, what are their alleged climate virtues? Let's consider that: this virtue is not based on science; it's not a calculation of their cradle-to-grave life cycle. It's a self-declaration. Electric vehicles identify as net zero, and so this government treats them as such.
No-one is looking at the harm these electric vehicles cause out of sight in the Third World or asking why they still have a social licence, given that most of them source raw materials on the back of child slave labour—child slave labour. What is the environmental cost of the Third World mining operations to build a car that sits in an Australian dealership with a green virtue sticker on the side? That's completely irrelevant as far as this government is concerned. Why else would Labor throw good money after bad behind Congo cobalt? Labor are turning a blind eye to the 40,000 children in the Congo mining the cobalt for EVs—after this bill, 45,000. Leading electric vehicle manufacturers claim to be free of child slave labour, yet their supply contracts for cobalt are with companies with child slave labour in their supply chains—deceit.
We like to think that our civilisation has advanced, yet these net-zero technologies, more than any other, are indulging in the cheap, largely unregulated labour of our poor neighbours and their children. When it's not children down mines clawing at the ground with their bare hands, it's the toxic mining practices for rare earths that make coalmines look like an oasis. This is the truth behind the green sticker. Electric vehicles need mining, and the Greens hate mining—or so they tell us. Greens and teals demand coal stay in the ground. How can anyone make more EVs without using coal to smelt the steel and the aluminium, process the plastics from coal and oil and make the glass? How can we make more electric vehicles without oil in the bearings? It seems the government and the Greens and teals cheer squads are determined to find out. It's impossible.
Added to the list of disasters waiting to happen is the effect of this many electric vehicles on the national electricity grid. Now we're talking about something that's hurting everyone. All it takes is three or so electric vehicles on an average suburban street to charge at the same time, and the powerlines melt down or shut off. Weather-dependent power like solar and wind cannot charge this many electric vehicles—full stop, that's it. I'm sure this bill will lead to government departments buying another off-market round of electric vehicles to zip around Canberra. What it will not do is save the planet. What it will not do is make electric vehicles more affordable. What it will not do is ease the cost of living. What it will not do is create a better, more competitive product. And who will pay? As always, the people will pay for this government's stupidity and deceit.
Even if they are miraculously delivered in this fit of madness, as a product electric vehicles have serious unresolved issues, like their tendency to spontaneously combust. Australia's firefighters have complained that they do not have the ability to put out lithium-ion battery fires in electric vehicles. So what happens when our underground car parks are packed full of these things and one starts off a chain reaction? What happens if they catch fire beneath apartment blocks, inside shopping centres, in tunnels? The ventilation of buildings and car parks is not designed to handle the safety issue, the hazard and risk issue of the scars, and there will be serious accidents in tight residential areas. If there's a fire, the water used to fight that fire is 10 times the amount for a conventional car fire. Firefighters are terrified of this. Even worse, that water becomes toxic as a result of contact with a toxic battery fire and must be captured and treated. Allowing firefighting water to run off site is an environmental contamination. EV does not stand for electric vehicle; EV stands for environmental vandalism.
This bill states that its purpose is, 'To encourage a greater uptake of electric cars by Australian road users to reduce Australia's carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector by making cars more affordable'. Let me be straight: this is a big-business perk to help the richest people in this country improve their environmental virtue-signalling and their social credit status on paper. It is nothing more. Labor is offering another incentive to the rich, urban, professional teal voters to come on over to Labor and to keep their buddies in government, the Greens, with them.
Yet underneath it all, the Australian people are left to pick up the bill for Labor's empty virtue-signalling and economic stupidity. This government needs to stop sucking up to the teals and start governing for Australia, and replace policies from the United Nations and World Economic Forum alliance, that began in 2018, with policies instead that serve Australia.
I want to mention a couple of points from Judith Sloan, the economist and journalist. At a time when United Nations and World Economic Forum policies drive goals of converting our transport fleet to electricity and hugely increasing demand for electricity, our bureaucrats push United Nations and World Economic Forum policies to kill reliable, baseload coal power and replace it with expensive, intermittent, unreliable wind and solar. And here's what Judith Sloan said:
It is surely ironic it was Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen who explicitly outlined the numerical challenge in front of transforming the NEM in such a short time frame. He has told us we will need 22,000 solar panels every day and 40 wind turbines every month for the next eight years. There will also be a requirement for at least 10,000km of additional transmission lines.
At the same time, we'll see 11,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation coming off capacity. This is insane. And who will pay? It's the people who will pay.
We need sensible government—honest governance. We have one flag. We are one community. We are one nation. And we stand for affordable, clean, secure mobility for all Australians.