Senate debates

Thursday, 24 November 2022


Treasury Laws Amendment (Electric Car Discount) Bill 2022; Second Reading

5:52 pm

Photo of Slade BrockmanSlade Brockman (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I too rise to speak on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Electric Car Discount) Bill 2022. It probably comes as no blinding surprise to people that I'm going to speak about this from a regional perspective. But also, it's from the perspective of where I currently live. I live in Perth. Obviously, doing this job has demands in terms of travelling to Canberra and travelling around the entirety of my home state of Western Australia—which means that being relatively close to an airport is pretty essential. So I guess I do live in an inner suburb of Perth.

We have seen in our area an absolute explosion of electric cars just this year. We have seen a significant number of all models of electric car, but particularly Teslas, which are highly visible—you notice them when they're on the road. We've seen a significant uptake in people deciding, through their own purchasing decisions and looking at their own requirements for transport range, and the electrical system they have in their home in terms of being able to charge off their own solar cells—through their choice—to take up an electric car.

But one thing I can absolutely guarantee those listening to this debate and those in the chamber is that you don't see that same uptake in regional and rural Australia. And you don't see that same uptake for a pretty obvious reason: the capacity to charge and the range are simply not there. People need to be able to drive long distances, as my good friend and colleague Senator O'Sullivan pointed out. People need to be able to tow heavy weights. They need to be able to have ranges that go beyond 50, 100 or 200 kilometres. They need to be able to move around the vast state of Western Australia as they have been able to with a petrol engine car—with an internal combustion engine car—and continue to do their business and lead their lives.

We see in this bill a huge shift of wealth, effectively, from outer metro and regional areas to the inner city. As I said, I do live in a relatively inner suburb and we are seeing electric cars there. So, why do we need, through this bill, to give a tax break to those inner-city people who are, quite frankly, already buying electric cars? The uptake is pretty significant. And that is coming at a direct cost—at a direct burden—to those who live in outer metropolitan regions, who have further to drive; to those who live in the regions; and to those who have a requirement to tow heavy loads. That's particularly—and obviously of interest to me—the farming community, tradies and people who work in the mining industry: people who simply don't have a choice.

It is highly questionable—and I'm not going to go through the technical details again; Senator O'Sullivan did a great job of going through the technical details—and it is highly unlikely, using current technology, that there will ever be a solution to towing heavy weights and having electric vehicles that can travel the long distances in rural and remote Western Australia. There could be a technological breakthrough, I have no doubt about that. But why, through this bill, are we effectively penalising those people in outer metropolitan and rural and regional Australia who simply cannot utilise electric vehicles as they currently stand, and will stand for the foreseeable future? Why are we providing a subsidy to the inner city? It really does beggar belief, particularly from a government that claims to be the defender of the working people of Australia. It absolutely beggars belief.

Obviously, I certainly won't be supporting this bill—and there are so many reasons not to support this bill. As I said, it really just represents a transfer of wealth in our society from the regions to the inner city. But it's also bad economic policy. We've got inflationary pressures in the budget, and how has the government chosen to respond? With measures such as this: measures that potentially just lead to more inflation in our economy. And will it have an impact on carbon emissions? No. Experts have said: 'It will have a negligible impact on reducing Australia's carbon emissions for the transport sector. Government's assertions that this initiative makes the take-up of EVs more affordable is misleading. Private buyers and sole traders of EVs cannot access these savings. There are other measures that would have a far greater short-term benefit for the environment than this measure.'

So it's not going to help the environment and it represents a transfer of wealth in our society from the regions to the inner city. Quite frankly, this looks like an ideological frolic. It's a bill that really does show the true colours of this government: it's one that wants to go on ideological frolics to provide lip service on a particular issue but, when it comes to proper policy development—

Senator Ayres, do you think you should be riding a horse? Is that what you're trying to get at? I'm sure you could. I'm sure you could provide a tax break to horses if it was of political advantage to the Labor Party! But you choose not to. You choose to provide tax breaks to the inner-city elites. I'm sure there'd be plenty of people who'd take a tax break for horses, Senator Ayres. But instead, the Labor government provides tax breaks for the inner-city elites. For those reasons, and many more, I will not be supporting the bill.


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