Labor faces a roadblock when it comes to delivering an election promise on electric vehicles with the Greens and independent senator David Pocock raising concerns about hybrid cars being included in the government’s legislation.
The Albanese government made good on its campaign promise to make EVs cheaper with the introduction of legislation which would cut the fringe benefits tax on low and zero emissions vehicles. But it includes plug-in hybrids, which rely on petrol combustion engines as well as electric power and are already commercially competitive.
The Greens and Pocock are concerned the inclusion of plug-in hybrids would bake in another taxpayer-funded fossil fuel subsidy while slowing the take-up of actual zero emission vehicles.
The opposition has already announced it will be voting against the legislation, on the grounds it believes the subsidies will cost taxpayers too much. That leaves Labor reliant on the Greens and independent senators such as Pocock if it wants to pass the bill.
Bandt said an easy solution was for the government to remove plug-in hybrids from the legislation, a move a parliamentary budget office analysis found would save almost $1bn over 10 years, and put the money into EV infrastructure, such as charging stations.
Bandt said more than $11bn of taxpayer funds were spent on fossil fuel subsidies every year and the government needed to start cutting the freebies, not adding to them.
“Public money should be driving the electric vehicle revolution, not giving handouts for petrol cars. Instead of spending $1bn subsidising petrol cars that people are already buying, the government should spend that money building charging stations in regional areas, as well as supporting people to install home chargers,” he said.
“Building charging stations across the country will make EVs more available to regional and rural Australians, while also giving everyone the confidence to drive longer distances.”
Pocock said he was thinking along similar lines.
“Analysis shows that around half of the kilometres travelled by plug-in hybrids use the petrol engine. This 50% petrol-powered travel time is with additional emissions from the extra weight of a battery and electric motor,” he said.
“The average lifespan of a car in Australia is about 10 years. A plug-in hybrid bought today will lock in emissions over the lifespan of the vehicle. We need to be moving away from transport emissions, not locking them in for longer.