Electric vehicle road usage taxes in SA and VIC spark mixed reactions

South Australia and Victoria’s plans to introduce charges for electric vehicle users have sparked mixed reactions across the sustainability and infrastructure sectors.

On the 10th of November the South Australian Government released its annual Budget which included plans to introduce a road user charge for plug-in electric vehicles.

The Victorian Government has also confirmed that its Budget will include a ‘per-kilometre’ a charge on electric vehicles in Victoria. This will be 2.5 cents per kilometre for electric and other zero-emissions vehicles and two cents per kilometre for plug in hybrid vehicles.

In South Australia the tax will include a fixed charge and a variable charge based on distance traveled. The state budget outlines revenue will be used to ensure road maintenance funding is sustainable into the future.

Both of these announcements have come around the same time UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his government’s plan to ban the sale of full petrol or diesel vehicles in the UK from 2030.

The Victorian Greens have slammed the Victorian Labour Government’s choice to introduce a charge for electric vehicles and will oppose the charge in State Parliament.

Victorian Greens spokesperson for transport, Sam Hibbins said governments around the world are making electric vehicles cheaper and encouraging uptake but the Victorian Government is heading in the opposite direction.

“This is a lazy tax that squibs the wider reform of replacing fuel exercise with road user charges. Placing a stand alone tax on electric vehicles without wider reform will act as a disincentive for cleaner air and lower emissions,” Hibbins said.

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari has also expressed his concern.

“Victoria simply won’t reach its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 if it taxes electrical vehicles. This is deeply counter-productive and makes very little sense,” Jafari said.

“This new tax is built on a myth. Fuel excise income is not quarantined for roads and will drop in the long run. But as we shift away from petrol and diesel, diseases linked to air pollution and other costs associated with climate change will also decrease. Why would you tax a technology that will drive profound savings and economic benefit? Now is the time to be encouraging EVs, not holding them back with a new tax.”

Jafari points to the Electric Vehicle Council’s recently released report about the true value of EV’s which shows benefits from the sale of electric vehicles to the government and broader economy.

However, when the South Australian electric vehicle charge was announced Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Chief Executive, Adrian Dwyer called on members of the states parliament to not rush to negative judgement when considering the decision to introduce a road user charge on electric vehicles.

“We have long argued environmental sustainability and economic sustainability need to go hand in hand,” Dwyer said.

“It is both possible and desirable to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles and make sure they pay for the infrastructure they use.”

In response to the Victorian announcement Dwyer said, for decades politicians and policy makers have talked about modernising the way we fund our roads, but today Treasurer Pallas acted.

“Applying a simple distance-based charge on Electric Vehicles will ensure every motorist makes a fair and sustainable contribution and will help secure a vital stream of transport funding for generations to come,” he said.

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