HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 7 SEPTEMBER 2022
It's no great surprise that the party that claimed that electric vehicles would end the weekend continues to be campaigning against this bill, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Electric Car Discount) Bill 2022—campaigning against a measure that would make electric vehicles cheaper. I switched to a Tesla Model 3 at the start of the year, and it is an absolute joy to drive. It is an extraordinary piece of technology. It's very quiet, environmentally sound and it does things that I've never before thought would just be natural for a car. You approach it and it unlocks, because your phone is in your pocket. It gets dark and the lights come on automatically. It rains and the windscreen wipers come on automatically. As an EV user I'm not unusual in driving a Tesla Model 3—according to the Electric Vehicle Council, they accounted for 60 per cent of all EV sales last year, followed by the MG ZS EV and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
Teslas are terrific fun but they're too expensive right now, and this bill seeks to address the challenge of affordability.
It is extraordinary, when we have a cost-of-living challenge like we do in Australia right now, that the coalition would be arguing against a measure which makes electric vehicles cheaper. At last count, consumers in the United Kingdom could choose from 26 low-emission vehicles under A$60,000. In Australia, that number is only eight. The global average of EV uptake is five times higher than Australia's level of two per cent. Today, the ACT is outperforming the national average, with five per cent of new vehicle sales electric. But as we move to ensure that Australia has sufficient uptake of electric vehicles to curb carbon emissions and to reduce the cost of living, it's important that we make electric vehicles cheaper. We know that the running costs are significantly lower. A petrol car working at an average of 11 litres per 100 kilometres, costs $14. The average electric car costs $4 per 100 kilometres. Right there, for every 100 kilometres that the typical household drives they will save $10 by driving an electric vehicle instead of a petrol car. We need to also ensure there are more fast chargers available, and that is why the government is committed to working with states and territories to expand the network of fast-charging stations.
This measure is about making an orderly and systematic transition away from petrol and diesel cars and towards electric vehicles. Apart from Russia, Australia is the only OECD country not to have or be in the process of developing fuel efficiency standards. That's why the Minister for Infrastructure and the Minister for Climate Change and Energy are developing a National Electric Vehicle Strategy which will explore options about how an Australian fuel efficiency standard would work, and will work with states and territories to reduce household costs from bringing electric vehicles in. We've committed to our Driving the Nation plan, which will establish a national EV charging network, with charging stations at an average interval of every 150 kilometres on major roads. We have committed to creating a national hydrogen highways refuelling network and set a low-emissions target for the Commonwealth fleet of 75 per cent of new leases and purchases by 2025.
I imagine that, looking a decade forward, the car parks in this building will be filled with electric vehicles. We in this building will probably need more spots to plug in electric vehicles. Right now, down in the parliamentary car park, my Tesla is plugged in to the wall, happily charging away, and it will be at 100 per cent by the time I drive home at the end of today. There are only a couple of power points in the wall there, and I expect this building—like many other buildings around Australia—will be updating and providing more charging stations. The simplicity of electric vehicles is that you don't have to worry about stopping at the petrol bowser, but it's also an important cost of living measure for Australians.
It is striking that the coalition, having seen a swathe of its formerly safe seats taken by teal Independents, voted in the last parliamentary sittings against Labor's measure to put in place a 43 per cent emissions reduction target. They now have a spokesperson who claims that there is no electric ute, despite clear evidence to the contrary, with carmakers such as General Motors developing exactly such a product. In the United States there is huge excitement over the Ford Lightning—a vehicle which is zippier than the Ford F-150 but which also acts as a resource for tradespeople. One of the key selling points of the Ford Lightning is that tradespeople can use it as a mobile battery. They can plug their tools into the Ford Lightning and ensure that they're able to work on the job. As we work to allow electric vehicles to feed back into the grid, they'll help to improve the sustainability of the grid by providing a whole set of mobile batteries that can be drawn on at times of high demand. That will be a part of the steady move towards having more batteries in households and having more community batteries, as Labor has committed to. Community batteries are rolling out in the ACT, including in Casey, in my own electorate.
Labor understands that dealing with climate change will require significant electrification. To look at books such as Bill Gates's How to Avoid a Climate Disaster is to realise the benefits of widespread electrification, as we deal with climate change. But we don't have to choose between cost of living and dealing with climate change. We don't have to choose between jobs and dealing with climate change. We don't have to choose between a car that's fun to drive and dealing with climate change. With electric vehicles you can have all of those things. These are vehicles which are a lot more fun to drive. My boys have never before campaigned so strongly for dad to drive them to school than since our household got an electric vehicle. They are also quieter, more energy efficient and cheaper. It's absolutely vital that we ensure that more Australians can get access to electric vehicles, and that we work with organisations such as the Electric Vehicle Council to expand the number of models that are available. In 2021, electric vehicle sales in Australia were just over 20,000. That's triple the level that they were in 2020. So Australians are keen to get hold of electric vehicles, but they don't have enough choices, and they don't have vehicles which are as affordable as they should be. By working with the electric vehicle manufacturers and ensuring that we remove these additional imposts, we're able to expand the uptake of electric vehicles.
I commend the hard work that the Minister has done on developing this policy, and I just note to the House that the absurdity of the coalition's position will become clearer and clearer as the years go by. They will be in the annals of history as the party that claimed electric vehicles would end the weekend. The Liberals will be in the annals of history as the party that voted against a measure to make electric vehicles more affordable. The Liberals are the 'useless box' of Australian politics. A useless box is a machine whose only purpose is to turn itself off, and that is the approach that the coalition takes. Probably the only time I will associate electrification with the coalition is to note their great similarity to a useless box: 'Turn it off, and don't worry about the new technology.' It is extraordinary that we have a party which claims to support a technology-led approach to tackling climate change but which is opposing the widespread rollout of that technology to their very own constituents, opposing a measure that will deal with cost of living and opposing a measure which will help electrify our vehicle fleet and reduce Australia's carbon emissions.
I commend the bill to the House.