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Electric Vehicle Policy in Australia

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

Government policy on electric vehicles in Australia has been a subject of contention and debate over the past two election campaigns, with the two major parties questioning the validity and integrity of their opponents' policies.

A photograph of an electric vehicle chargin at an Australian EV charging station with the text: "Electric Vehicles in Australia" foregrounded

Scott Morrison's 2022 Electric Vehicles Policy

The current LNP federal government, if re-elected, is intending to partner with the private sector to fund 50,000 charging stations to be placed in Australian homes towards encouraging more Australians to buy electric vehicles. This increased funding in charging stations is intended to create 2600 jobs over three years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that the Liberal National Party policy would work to lower the cost of low and zero-emission vehicles:

"We will not be forcing Australians out of the car they want to drive or penalising those who can least afford it through bans or taxes."

However, the strategy does not included any subsidies or tax incentives towards increasing the growth in electric cars. The strategy has been criticised by the Electric Vehicle Council CEO, Behyad Jafari, who claimed that the new policy ignored the most important measures needed towards growing Australia's uptake in electric cars, namely tax incentives, sales targets and subsidies:

"The strategy has identified some of the correct benefits and pathways, but it does little to realise them."

Following the policy announcement in November of 2021, former Labor leader, Bill Shorten, claimed that the government had copied elements of Labor's 2019 election policy platform:

"One of the big drawbacks on electric vehicles is people worry there's not enough charging stations on our roads...Labor proposed it. Mr Morrison must read my policy book at night time for ideas."

Mr. Morrison refuted Mr. Shorten's claim:

"I don't think their policy was a good policy … because Labor wants to tell everybody what to do, what cars to drive."

Mr. Morrison's new electric vehicle policy has been described as a pivot when placed in context of his 2019 assertions that Labor's policy was a "war on the weekend."

Scott Morrison Labels Labor's 2019 Electric Vehicles Policy a "War on the Weekend"

During the 2019 election campaign, Labor's electric vehicle policy included up to $1 billion in research and development grants towards rejuvenating Australia's manufacturing sector. This fund was intended to focus on the development of batteries and electric vehicles in Australia, towards a 2030 target of 50% utilisation of electric cars.

Mr. Morrison criticised Labor's electric vehicle policy and questioned how drivers of electric cars would charge them. He also described Labor's electric vehicle policy as "a war on the weekend, when it comes to the vehicle you drive and the vehicle you want to choose"

In 2021, Mr. Morrison also suggested Labor's 2019 policy was intended to force people into utilising electric vehicles and would lead to an increase in fuel prices.

Labor's 2022 Election Campaign Electric Vehicles Policy

During the Courier Mail People's Forum debate, when asked about policies regarding electric batteries and how to help Australians purchase electric vehicles, Anthony Albanese responded:

"This is a part of a future made in Australia. We need to make more things here. It makes no sense that everything that goes into a battery: copper, lithium, nickel, is all here, we send it offshore and the batteries are made. This is a potential major industry here in Australia and we need to do more to create those high value jobs. I support exporting our resources but where possible we should be valuating here rather than seeing the value add somewhere else and thee jobs created somewhere else and that's what we'll do. On EV's - the Prime Minister said during the 2019 campaign that electric vehicles would 'end the weekend'. They said that 'they couldn't tow your trailer', 'couldn't tow your boat'. It was all nonsense. The truth is, the truth is that electric vehicles are here, they will continue to grow in the future. We will reduce the taxes on electric vehicles particularly a measure that will make a difference is removing the fringe benefits tax for all those below the luxury car tax threshold because that's how a whole range of cars will get into the fleet."

Labor makes the claim that employers who take advantage of the fringe benefits tax exemption could potentially save up to $9000 per year:

"If a $50,000 model is provided through employment arrangements, Labor’s fringe benefits tax exemption will save employers up to $9,000 a year. Often FBT is passed on to employees – and those employees will benefit directly from Labor’s policy."

On a more expensive electric car, such as a Tesla Model 3, this saving could be as high as $12,000. As part of Labor's policy platform, the party also intends to create 400 community batteries towards lowering power bills. The policy is expected to cost $200 million over 3 years beginning in July of 2022.

While Labor's policies on electric vehicles during the 2019 election campaign aimed for 50% electric vehicles utilisation by 2030, in the current campaign this figure has been adjusted to nearly 90% utilisation. Overall, Labor's Powering Australia Plan, is intended to drive $76 billion of investment, lower average yearly electricity costs by $275 by 2025, and by nearly $380 by 2030 and create over 600,000 new jobs.

Sources & Further Reading

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