Questions without notice: Electric Vehicles
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran): My question is to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. Minister, governments around the world are increasing the uptake of electric vehicles by lowering costs and making them more affordable. Locally new electric vehicles make up less than 1 per cent of car sales, some of the lowest in the developed world. Minister, with Victoria’s transport emissions rising, to tackle the climate emergency we need to bring them down fast. So why on earth is the government putting an extra tax on electric vehicles?
Ms D’AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) : I thank the member for Prahran for his question, but I do want to contest the basis of that question. To suggest a tax to the extent that the Treasurer announced a few days ago will somehow totally undermine our government’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 is an absolute untruth, frankly, and it makes light of the seriousness with which our government is tackling climate change. You only have to look at the fact that this budget is providing a record $1.6 billion of investment, most of which is over the next three to four years, to absolutely tackle head- on the need for us to move to a decarbonised economy. Our government is the only government that has legislated interim emissions reduction targets in the country. Our government is the only government in the country to have committed in legislation to establish and release sector pledges, including for transport, and those will be released in coming months.
There is absolutely no doubt that when it comes to climate change, when it comes to ensuring that our economic recovery has at its heart the jobs in the new economy and the jobs that come with new energy technologies, in particular electric vehicles, and when you have a look at the energy innovation fund—there is more than $100 million dedicated to innovation. It is absolutely chalk and cheese, what is claimed by the member for Prahran and what the reality is. The reality is that this government is leading the country when it comes to growing the jobs in a decarbonised economy, and it is not leaving any Victorian behind by providing the necessary support for them to come along on the journey, decarbonise our economy and get to net zero emissions by 2050.
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran): My supplementary question to the minister: given that the main barrier to the uptake of EVs is the cost and that the government’s EV tax will actually increase the annual operation—
Mr HIBBINS: If the minister could actually listen to the question, I think that would help question time. Given that the main barrier to the uptake of EVs is the cost and that the government’s EV tax will actually increase the actual annual operation cost of an electric vehicle by around 50 per cent at a time when transport emissions are the fastest rising sector for emissions in Victoria, won’t the government’s electric vehicle tax actually result in more petrol vehicles on the road and less EVs?
Ms D’AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes): I thank the member for the supplementary question, and I reject outright the assertion there. In fact what I do remind the member and his allies opposite of is that when they had the opportunity to actually demonstrate national leadership, which would have tackled head-on this issue of transport emissions, they wimped out and they walked away from Australia’s carbon emissions target scheme nationally. They voted against it. So do not lecture us on carbon emissions reduction strategies.
Mr Hibbins: On a point of order, Speaker, on relevance, I know it is convenient for the minister to forget the prime ministership of Julia Gillard and the agreement she made with the Greens, but she is not being relevant to the question. I ask you to bring her back to the point of the question, which was about electric vehicles.
The SPEAKER: Order! Government members will come to order. I do ask the minister to come back to answering the question.
Ms D’AMBROSIO: Thank you, Speaker. Our government’s investment in this budget and, dare I say, future budgets is absolutely right now casting a massive shadow over what he claims to be a debilitating policy which will get us nowhere near to decarbonising the transport sector. I reject that outright. It is this side of the house that has the passion, that has the ambition and that has the plans and the actions to get this done, and we will deliver.