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Federal Government budget serious about climate change: EVs need to play a pivotal role – The Fifth Estate

by Nov 9, 2022Blog0 comments

The Fifth Estate
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As millions of Australians juggle increased cost-of-living expenses including soaring fuel prices exacerbated by the end of the temporary fuel excise cut, interest in electric vehicles has once more been rekindled. 
But the recent budget announcement proves that while the government can no longer deny the value of electric vehicles and the legitimacy of climate change, the barriers preventing higher EV uptake must continue to be addressed. 
A 2021 consumer attitudes survey conducted by the Electric Vehicle Council found that 54 per cent of Aussies were willing to consider an EV as their next car purchase and 49 per cent could see themselves driving an EV by 2030 but 40 per cent would be more inclined to purchase an EV if the government subsidised their purchase. 
The Federal Government’s 2023 budget is the first in a long line to take the impact of climate change seriously. The new government has significantly increased investment in climate action from close to nothing in May this year to $24.9 billion in October.  
While it is a welcome change to see over $400 million allocated to renewable endeavours like solar, batteries, and education in the green energy sector, there is still a distinct lack of incentive for EV uptake. 
Where some countries have had tax cuts and rebates for years, even decades, Australia has been slow to move. 
Australia has significantly fallen behind our international counterparts when it comes to EV availability. Consumers in the United Kingdom can choose from 26 low-emissions vehicles under $60,000, whereas in Australia, our options are limited to only eight. Our uptake of EVs is nearly five times lower than the global average and government commitment to addressing these challenges is needed to ensure we don’t remain stagnant.
Labor’s 2022 budget finally delivered Australia’s first federal electric vehicles incentive which will see a cut to the price of some electric cars to make them more affordable and encourage uptake. 
Incentives will remain critical for accelerating the adoption of electric cars, buses, and trucks, and, in turn, the development of a second-hand EV market to provide fair access to EVs for all Australian households and businesses. 
The budget also includes a $39.8 million commitment over five years for the much-needed National Electric Vehicle Charging Network. In partnership with the NRMA, it aims to build 117 fast charging stations on major highways across Australia. Though 117 fast charging stations is grossly inadequate to encourage EV purchase, given the size of the country.
Labor will also deliver $275.4 million over six years for the Driving the Nation Fund, which aims to provide cheaper and cleaner transport across Australia. This includes $146.1 million for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency which delivers projects that reduce emissions in the transport sector. This will go hand-in-hand with a Low Emission Vehicle target for the Commonwealth fleet of 75 per cent of new leases and purchases by 2025.
A further $89.5 million over six years will go towards the Hydrogen Highways project which will help deliver hydrogen refuelling stations on Australia’s main freight routes.
The Albanese Government is also thankfully delivering on its election commitment to develop Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy. The strategy consultation paper closed for review on 31 October 2022 and will help to ensure Australians can access greener transport technologies and help meet emission targets. At the heart of the strategy will be a plan to improve uptake of EVs and improve affordability and choice by growing the Australian electric vehicle market.
A strong strategy will ensure all stakeholders can support the transition to electric vehicles, and will guide governments, industry, and investors to implement measures to decarbonise the road transport sector. It should support the roll-out of a national charging infrastructure network, target funding and policies to stimulate investment and innovation across the full EV value chain in Australia, and provide support, such as zero-interest loans, to accelerate the uptake of EVs and other vehicles, including equipment used in agriculture, construction and mining. 
Going electric will not only reduce Australia’s vulnerability to global energy price fluctuations, it will also create more certainty for the economy and for consumers who are looking to cut down on expenses and do good for the environment. 
If Australia is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, it must move quickly to bring the transport sector (which is responsible for 20 per cent of Australia’s emissions) in line. Australia is presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity to benefit from the transition to electric vehicles, but it is critical the Federal Government acts swiftly to ensure they capture these opportunities.
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