Electric vehicle groups have lashed out at the federal government’s long-awaited future fuels policy, labelling the proposal a “fizzer”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled his government’s electric vehicle strategy at the Toyota plant in Melbourne’s west on Tuesday morning.
It aims to put 1.7 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030.
“Allowing consumers to lead this process is really important,” he said.
“The customer is always right and the customer wants to buy electric vehicles at a cheaper price and get longer duration from these vehicles.”
The abrupt backflip comes after the Prime Minister derided electric vehicles in the lead-up to the last federal election as “ending the weekend”.
On Tuesday, Mr Morrison said he had opposed Labor’s electric vehicle policy because it wasn’t a good one.
“I don’t think that policy was a good policy. I still don’t think it is a good policy,” he said.
As part of the $500 million Future Fuels strategy, the government anticipates $250 million will be used to build charging stations and commercial fleets.
However, Electric Vehicles Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said the strategy ignored important initiatives to boost uptake.
“There’s no sugar coating it, Future Fuels is a fizzer,” Mr Jaafari said.
“If it contained fuel efficiency standards and rebates, it would give Australians more choice.”
Mr Morrison also expects $250 million in Future Fuels funding will be matched by private investment, with as many as 2600 jobs to be created.
“We want the customers to be able to drive the incentive for these vehicle companies to drive their costs down. We don’t want to drive those costs down by writing off the checks to multinational companies. That is not the way you do this,” he said.
As part of the government strategy, 50,000 households and 400 businesses would have access to charging stations, with 1000 public stations being built.
But Mr Jafari said there were no subsidies or tax incentives included in the the government’s strategy to boost electric vehicle uptake, while fuel efficiency measures were needed to allow more choice for customers.
“[The policy] addresses 5 per cent of what’s needed, and the 5 per cent of what it does is good,” he told ABC radio.
“It’s now 2021 and we have been waiting two years for this policy … it’s far too little, too late.”
Some 84 per cent of the population will have access to a charging station, under the government’s plan.
Labor has accused the government of copying the policies it took to the last election, which was attacked by the Coalition in the lead up to the poll.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery in politics,” former opposition leader Bill Shorten told morning TV on Tuesday.
“Mr Morrison must read my policy book at night-time for ideas.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Australia was falling behind globally on electric vehicle uptake.
“What we would do is eliminate the taxes, but also to make sure that companies could take up electric vehicles,” he told the ABC.
“[This is] a government that had a violent opposition to electric vehicles and now we would have it believe that have converted.”
In a separate environmental announcement, Labor is promising to spend $200 million fixing up urban waterways if it wins power in the next poll to be held by May 2022.
The program, which involves local governments and community groups, is aimed at improving water quality, reducing localised flooding and restoring habitats.
“Urban waterways are so important for quality of life,” Mr Albanese said.
“More people who live in cities and higher density housing need parks around our waterways right around our cities to engage in recreational activity.”