Anthony Albanese has vowed to make electric cars more affordable by exempting them from ­import and fringe-benefit taxes, as Labor plans to bolster low-carbon industries without putting cost pressures on households and business.

The Opposition Leader will also unveil a plan to build 400 “community batteries” that will give storage for up to 100,000 household solar panels, on the final day of the ALP’s online ­national conference where the focus will be on climate change, energy, the environment and ­industrial relations.

Mr Albanese said the electric cars policy, which applies to vehicles worth less than $77,500, would increase the uptake of electric vehicles, which account for less than 1 per cent of new car sales in Australia compared to a global average of more than 4 per cent.

Under the policy, the exemption of the 5 per cent import tariff will provide a $2000 saving on a $50,000 car, while employers will save $9000 on fringe-benefits taxes. “A majority of Australians say they would consider buying an electric model as their next car, but because of scaremongering and the policy vacuum under the Morrison government, electric vehicles remain unaffordable for most Australians,” Mr Albanese said.

“Labor will cut government taxes on non-luxury electric vehicles, including import taxes and fringe benefits tax, to give people choice and ensure that more ­Australians who want electric cars can afford them.”

An Albanese government would also develop a “national electric vehicle strategy”, with the aim of encouraging local manufacturing of vehicle components. The strategy would also consider how to increase charging infrastructure and the implications of declining fuel excise.

The policies, which have a combined cost of $400m, ­aim to outgun the Prime Minister’s “technology not taxes” approach to taking action on climate change, while protecting Labor against scare campaigns that it will increase cost-of-living pressures on families.

At the first day of the online national conference on Tuesday, technical issues struck in the first hour with the online portal being down with no sound while AFL commentator Sam Lane introduced proceedings.

ALP president Wayne Swan was described as the “shadow minister for NDIS”, the title that belongs to former Labor leader Bill Shorten.

In an effort to portray party unity, Mr Shorten opened the event with a speech that ­described his longtime rival Mr Albanese as the “next prime minister of Australia”.

“The starting point for all of us at this conference must be the knowledge and the belief that Labor can most assuredly win the next election,” Mr Shorten said from the Revesby Workers Club in western Sydney.

“And it’s now my pleasure to introduce the leader who will take us to that victory.”

Mr Albanese avoided any damaging vote losses on the first day of conference, with the clear majority of 400 delegates rejecting rebel proposals on trade and health policy from the Electrical Trades Union and the Health Workers Union.

Amendments and resolutions passed during the conference included the next Labor government recognising Palestine as a state and forcing an ­Albanese government to ­renegotiate trade deals that ­unions believe do not protect ­workers.

A resolution by ­female Labor MPs, unionists and party members committed an Albanese government to creating a ­national plan to prevent violence against women, with sexual violence being the central focus.

The next Labor government would also lead a “law reform process to consider harmonisation of criminal laws governing consent”.

There were resolutions passed that took a harder line on China’s human rights abuses, criticising its policies on Uighurs, Tibet and trade unions.

Mr Albanese called on Australians to vote out Scott Morrison at the next election, saying women’s voices were not being heard by this government.

The Opposition Leader also accused the Prime Minister of having no post-pandemic plan for women, jobs, climate change, and First Nations people.

Extracted in full from: Labor’s tax-free ride for electric cars (theaustralian.com.au)

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