Victorians who own electric vehicles could have their registration cancelled if they fail to comply with a controversial new road user charge, which passed the state upper house late on Tuesday and now awaits only the formality of royal assent before it becomes law.
The tax will come into force from July 1. From that date, EV owners must keep a record of the kilometres they travel over each year through odometer readings, and at the end of the year provide that information to the authorities.
Failure to do so may result in registration being suspended or cancelled if motorists fail to pay on time, the explanatory memorandum to the legislation said.
The tax will initially be 2.5 cents per kilometre for full battery EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and 2 cents for hybrids, but it will rise every year with inflation. The Victorian government has estimated that will initially amount to $330 a year on average, though it will be considerably more for motorists who travel longer distances.
The annual increase will be indexed to the “all groups consumer price index” for Melbourne, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics put at 0.8 per cent in the 12 months to March 2021.
The tax will only apply to kilometres covered on public roads. For motorists that clock up mileage on private roads, the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that fact.
The bill had initially faced opposition in the upper house, where Labor does not have an outright majority, on the grounds that it was a regressive policy that would deter people from going electric.
To sweeten the pill, the Andrews government introduced a number of reforms, including $3,000 subsidies for up to 20,000 new EVs, and a promise to ensure 50 per cent of new car sales are zero or low emission vehicles by 2030.
To read the full story, please go to our EV-focused sister site, The Driven, and click here.
James Fernyhough is a reporter at RenewEconomy. He has worked at The Australian Financial Review and the Financial Times, and is interested in all things related to climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.