A group of independent MPs will seek to push the next federal government to implement strong national vehicle standards, arguing the best way for Australia to improve its fuel security is to reduce dependence on overseas energy sources.
Independent candidates Zali Steggall, Allegra Spender and Kylea Tink addressed the Emergency Fuel Security Summit hosted by the Smart Energy Council in Sydney on Thursday.
The three independent candidates said the need to improve fuel security and implement fuel efficiency standards had been neglected by the Coalition government, which had also refused to introduce effective national vehicle standards.
This has left Australia as a dumping ground for poor quality and inefficient vehicles, and has deepened Australia’s dependence on petrol and diesel vehicles. Its National Electric Vehicle Strategic morphed into a “Future Fuels Strategy”, which failed to properly embrace EVs.
Tink, who is mounting a challenge against North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman, said that if elected, she would act to introduce private member’s legislation to implement vehicle emissions standards.
Tink said such standards would improve the quality of vehicles sold in Australia, as well as make Australia a more attractive market for electric vehicles.
“One of the things that has been clear is that we need legislative reforms and that’s why I’m committing … to actually introduce a private member’s bill into the House of Representatives within the first 12 months, instigating vehicle emission standards in our country,” Tink said.
“It will mean Australia will move from being one of the only countries in the OECD not currently benefiting from vehicle emission standards to bring this up and ensuring we’re meeting worldwide standards and creating a market that is attractive for electric vehicles to be brought.”
Spender, who is seeking to unseat Liberal MP Dave Sharma from the eastern Sydney seat of Wentworth, told the forum that Australia was falling behind the world in shifting to zero emissions vehicles, and was one of just a few countries without vehicle standards.
“We can improve people’s lives in this country, both from a health point of view, and from a cost of living point of view, if we make an effective transition to electric vehicles,” Spender said.
“Eighty per cent of the world’s cars are covered by emission standards, but not in this country.”
“It doesn’t cost the government money to put in emission standards. But what it does do is it gives car manufacturers the obligation to give Australian cleaner cars.”
“In the UK, you have three times as much choice of electric vehicles than you do in this country. That’s because we don’t have emission standards,” Spender added.
Incumbent member for Warringah, Zali Steggall, told the forum that Australia’s new-vehicle market should aim for as much as 76 per cent electric share of new vehicle sales by 2030.
“On a business as usual basis, we might get to about 27 per cent of new car sales being electric by 2030,” Steggall said.
“What I am pushing for is that we reach over 76 per cent of new car sales to be electric by 2030, and we can do that by the kind of measures proposed by Kylea Tink in terms of emission standards but also by looking at tax reform.”
Steggall said her experience in parliament to date had highlighted the unwillingness of the Coalition government to support the growth of Australia’s zero emissions vehicle sector.
“We need tax reform around the luxury car tax, how fringe benefits tax is calculated, we need to incentivise corporate car fleets to be electric, and certainly the parliamentary car fleet should be electric,” Steggall said.
“It’s something I raised with minister Taylor, and I got a very non-answer by which he raised range anxiety for regional MPs.”
“When I met with the Minister to discuss improving our fuel standards, I got an answer that this would not be addressed until 2027. So that says just how quickly this sector is not moving,” Steggall added.