Matt Kean urges the Coalition government to ‘go a lot further’ to help drive EV uptake

The New South Wales treasurer, Matt Kean, has taken a swipe at the Morrison government’s new electric vehicle policy, as he unveiled additional funding that sees his state’s investment dwarf the federal commitment.

On Wednesday, the day after the prime minister, Scott Morrison, unveiled $178m in new funding for a future fuels fund to build charging stations across Australia, Kean announced an additional $105m to boost uptake of EVs among fleet operators in NSW.

The money comes on top of $490m the NSW government has already committed to drive uptake of EVs, which includes initiatives such as waiving stamp duty on electric vehicle purchases and providing subsidies for new purchases.

The auction-style initiative, which will open at the end of November, will see operators who are buying at least 10 vehicles at a time asked to submit the incentive amount they would need for them to buy an eligible electric vehicle.

The Perrottet government would then cover the difference between the cost of the electric vehicles and comparable combustion engine vehicles.

Kean said that about 50% of new car sales in the state were fleet sales – used by taxi companies, rideshare drivers, councils and other organisations – and were traditionally resold within three to four years of purchase.

As a result, Kean said he expected the initiative would see more EVs sold as second-hand cars and make more affordable options more widely available.

The Electric Vehicle Council chief executive, Behyad Jafari, who appeared at the announcement with Kean, said he was hopeful electric vehicles being sold by fleet operators would “flood” the secondhand market in coming years.

It takes NSW’s investment in driving electric vehicle uptake to $595m, while the federal government has said it will spend $250m across all states and territories – which includes the $178m funding announced on Tuesday.

Kean has also confirmed the NSW government has signed up to a United Nations COP26 declaration for countries and car manufacturers to transition to net zero emissions cars by 2040. Kean believes that by 2030, half of all new car sales in NSW will be electric vehicles.

In evaluating the federal government’s plan, Kean welcomed the initiatives but said “they can obviously do a lot more”.

“This is a revolution which is coming whether Barnaby Joyce likes it or not. The reality is that the right-hand car markets are changing to electric,” he said.

In an interview with ABC’s 7.30 on Tuesday, Kean said there were several issues the Morrison government’s policy ignored, and pointed out that “the funding they’ve put on the table doesn’t even match the funding that we’ve put here just for the state of NSW”.

“We think the federal government’s initiatives are good, but they can go a lot further. I’d encourage the federal government to be looking at doing things like providing direct support for people who want to purchase an EV.”

Kean also said “the biggest thing the federal government can do is deal with the issue of fuel standards”.

Australia has some of the worst fuel standards anywhere in the world. Our fuel standards are worse than China and they’re worse than India and what that means is that Australia is becoming the dumping ground for the vehicles the rest of the world doesn’t want.

“That’s not only bad for the environment, but it means that consumers are getting less choice and they are paying more at the bowser. That’s not acceptable,” Kean said.

“You can’t sit by and hope for the best. You’ve got to put in place the policies and show the leadership required to roll that technology out at scale.”

Kean also made reference to Morrison’s change of tone on EVs, from claiming that the then Labor leader Bill Shorten’s policy would “end the weekend” ahead of the 2019 election to appearing to embrace the technology on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Kean said: “We don’t just think EVs are going to revolutionise the weekend, we think they’re going to revolutionise every day of the week.”

Kean also reiterated that EVs had now been granted special permission to drive in transit lanes in NSW as a further incentive to drive uptake.

Extracted in full from: NSW treasurer takes swipe at Morrison’s electric car policy as state dwarfs federal funding | Electric vehicles | The Guardian