Electric vehicles and renewable energy featured at the first Australian election debate – however, neither candidate flagged transformative policies.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison went head-to-head last night in Queensland, fighting for the hearts and minds of 100 swing voters in the audience.

“I’d like to know a little bit about what your policies are around the electric batteries space … and also how you are going to help Australians get into EVs,” audience member Vladimir asked both party leaders.

Mr Albanese reaffirmed his promise to remove fringe benefit taxes on electric cars under $79,659 to increase uptake, and suggested batteries could be built in Australia.

“We need to make more things here. It makes no sense that everything that goes into a battery – copper, lithium, and nickel – is all here but we send it offshore,” Albanese said.

Further, the Opposition Leader slammed the Prime Minister for his now-infamous campaign against electric cars at the last election.

“[He] said … EVs ‘would end the weekend.’ They said that they couldn’t tow your trailer, tow your boat, but it was all nonsense.

“The truth is electric vehicles are here and 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 benefit tax for all those below the luxury car tax threshold because that’s how a whole range of cars get into the fleet.”

Mr Morrison avoided discussion of zero-emission transport entirely, however mirrored interest in local battery production and spruiked his record backing the resource sector.

“Critical minerals and rare earths can be mined in Australia, but we need to make sure that the take-off agreements that need to be in place to justify the investment in the first place can be achieved,” Morrison said.

“We worked with Japan and India … and we’ve come together as leaders on critical minerals and rare earths development which will give us many opportunities.

“I think Australia can be an energy powerhouse continuing into the future. We have been up until now, but, as we move over the next ten years, we’re going to position Australia well to do that again.”

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