Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 May 2021


Electric Vehicles; Consideration

5:09 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I wish to take note of document 18 on page 6, which was the response from the Premier of South Australia to a resolution of the Senate about not imposing discriminatory taxes upon electric vehicles. I really do want to note my disappointment in the response from the South Australian Premier, who outlined their intent to continue the South Australian government's proposal to impose a discriminatory tax on electric vehicles. That letter continued to repeat the insinuation that such taxes are appropriate because electric vehicles supposedly don't pay their fair share and don't contribute to tax revenue.

Fortunately, in the time since we sent this letter to the premiers, we have had a Senate Economics Legislation Committee inquiry. In fact, today there is a report from the Economics Legislation Committee on my private senator's bill, which is aiming to neutralise the potential impact of these discriminatory taxes on EVs. I'm not able to speak to that legislation committee's report this afternoon, so it's worth bringing out some of the evidence presented to that committee in this time slot now.

With regard to this furphy that electric vehicles don't pay their way, the committee heard so much evidence that showed in fact the benefit to society and the benefit to governments in tax revenue from electric vehicles would be overwhelming. Recent analysis from EY commissioned by the Electric Vehicle Council quantified the net benefit of electric vehicles in Australia. The average net benefit to government and society of an electric vehicle replacing an internal combustion engine vehicle is $8,763.40. This includes higher tax revenue from electric vehicle sales due to their comparatively higher upfront costs. In other words, even though electric vehicles are not paying fuel excise because they're not burning dirty, polluting petrol, they are paying more than that in extra revenue because electric vehicles are more expensive to buy than internal combustion engines.

This whole furphy that electric vehicles are not paying their way, which is continued in this response from the South Australian Premier, is completely that—a furphy. We should be doing everything we can to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles. In fact, there was so much evidence put to the economics committee hearings that the committee report says:

The committee notes the consistent support for EVs through most of the submissions received … there is a general consensus in those submissions that more could be done to encourage Australian consumers to purchase EVs. The idea of imposing a tax specifically on EVs has met with significant opposition.

One of the other strong findings from the evidence presented to our committee of why the state governments are going it alone is that there needs to be a consistent national approach. We cannot have a hotchpotch of different taxing regimes and different approaches to electric vehicles across the states. The logistics industry told us they didn't want to see a range of different approaches because that would be an extra regulatory burden on them. What these responses from the state premiers are showing is we need that consistent national approach. We need leadership from this government and it is leadership that is so lacking.

This is important because transport makes up 20 per cent of our carbon pollution. If we are going to do what Australia needs to do to slash our carbon pollution and to play our role in tackling the climate crisis then we need to slash the pollution from transport. We need to be rapidly increasing the uptake of electric vehicles, but, of course, this government are climate deniers. They are not showing leadership on electric vehicles because they don't think that it's important. They are happy to keep subsidising coal, gas and oil and, in fact, keeping on internal combustion vehicles for as long as they can keep driving along the road. Meanwhile, electric vehicles are not in the slow lane; they are broken down at the side of the road, and there's no emergency response crew in sight. We are being total laggards here in Australia; we're being left behind. The types of policies that the state governments are implementing in imposing selective discriminatory taxes have been described as the worst in the world. We absolutely have to do better.

Question agreed to.