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Question: Electric Vehicle Tax

23 June 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:13): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the minister representing the Premier, the Treasurer, on the topic of electric vehicles.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, the state government confirmed that it will be bringing back the electric car tax, despite being warned that a road user tax on clean cars, introduced without other support, could discouraging their uptake and impede greenhouse gas cuts.

My question to the Treasurer is: why is South Australia following the flawed Victorian approach to implementing a tax on electric cars when 25 organisations, including global auto manufacturers Volkswagen and Hyundai, policy experts and leading commentators, including the Electric Vehicle Council and the Australia Institute, have called it the worst electric vehicle policy in the world?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (15:14): The state government's position has been quite clear since last year. Since then, there has been growing momentum around Australia towards the implementation of a road user charge—a recognition of the inevitable. It is not just the Victorian government; the New South Wales government in the last week has now confirmed the proposed introduction of a road user charge. The two biggest jurisdictions in the nation have recognised the inevitability of where we are heading.

One can try to prevent the tide coming in in relation to this particular issue, but the reality is that we are going to move to a future where inevitably virtually every vehicle in the nation will be an electric vehicle of some type or another. The reality of that means that the motor fuel excise, which currently funds the maintenance of roads and the upgrade of roads, will disappear as a funding source for road maintenance and upkeep. Those who wish can choose to ignore the reality, but those who are prepared to accept the reality, including Labor and Liberal governments interstate and including this government, are prepared to commence that particular debate.

As I said last year, ultimately it's a decision for each of the individual parliaments. The Victorian parliament, even with significant crossbench representation in the Legislative Council, supported the introduction of the road user charge. Time will tell whether or not the New South Wales parliament, which also has significant crossbench representation in the upper house, will support the introduction of a road user charge in New South Wales.

This parliament will have the opportunity to express its view. But as I said last year when we first raised this particular issue, whatever the decision of this parliament, mark my words as I sail off into the political sunset: it is inevitable that there will have to be a road user charge because otherwise there will be no funding source for roads and road maintenance in the future.