Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed on Sunday that reforming fuel emissions standards is an “area of focus” for the federal government. As petrol prices soar and global instability in the oil markets deepens, this sensible adjustment – that would encourage the electric vehicle market and mean savings for households and industries – is a good priority for the government and should be fast tracked.

Current legislation categorises a car as high efficiency at 8L/100km while our major trading partners require 4L/100km to be considered efficient. This means less efficient cars can be sold more cheaply in Australia. Consequently, global auto manufacturers have no incentive to sell EVs into the Australian market, and indeed they are offloading older, less efficient petrol models in Australia.

This has led to a situation where Australia has fallen well behind comparable economies when it comes to EV sales. While globally EVs make up 10.3 per cent of new car sales, in Australia that figure is only 1.95 per cent. Major markets such as the UK, US and European Union have implemented strong policies to make EVs more accessible. Australia needs to do the same.

In addition to emissions standards, Australia’s dependence on imported oil has long been a key risk to our economy and national security. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has heightened this risk as western allies boycott Russian oil, causing international supply shortfalls and record high prices.

Attempts to solve our fuel security issues without reducing our reliance on oil, while necessary, have been expensive and short-term. A wide-scale transition to EVs for personal use, transport and freight would prove a long-term solution that would reduce costs for households and industry while also cutting carbon emissions.

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