Matter of Public Importance - New Vehicle Efficiency Standard

29 February 2024

Ms BYRNES (Cunningham) (16:03): When it comes to cost-of-living relief, the Liberals always say no—and I'll include my friend the member opposite for also saying no from the Nationals. They say no to cheaper medicines, they say no to energy bill relief, they say no to lower taxes for Middle Australia and, last night, teaming up with their new coalition in the Greens political party, they said no to more help to buy schemes. Shame. On this side of the chamber, we are getting on with the job and we are delivering cost-of-living relief that is carefully calibrated to take the edge off some of the pressures that people are under, including our better and fairer tax plan, which the RBA and Treasury confirmed will not impact inflation.

From 1 July, every Australian taxpayer will get a tax cut because on this side of the House we want people to earn more and keep more of what they earn. That's why 84 per cent of people in my community are receiving a bigger tax cut, leaving more money in their pockets. Our cost-of-living tax cuts are on top of the tens of billions of dollars in cost-of-living relief already rolling out, including—and just to name a few—energy bill relief, cheaper child care, increased rent assistance, increased bulk-billing, cheaper medicines, fee-free TAFE, building more affordable homes, expanding Paid Parental Leave and, of course, creating jobs and getting wages moving again.

But those opposite are at it again with the scare campaigns and fearmongering with claims that they know are false. Those opposite need to explain why they think hardworking Australians should be denied access to cars that are cheaper to run. Yes, they are cheaper.

We are consulting on a new vehicle efficiency standard that is right for Australia and will help take pressure off families. This isn't about one vehicle over another. There is no ute tax, like those opposite want you to believe. It is about creating greater choice when you want to buy a new vehicle—a greater choice of cars that are cheaper to run, whether they be petrol, diesel, hybrid or EV. My friend and constituent Saul Griffith, the guru of electrification and the lobbyist that your children deserve, loves a ute, and he has his eye on an electric Monaro. Saul says:

The technology has delivered. And there's no reason not to turn every culture war on its head and just say, 'No, you're going to get your electric cake and do burnouts too'.

The weekend is indeed not ending. There is no ute tax. A new vehicle efficiency standard allows suppliers to choose how they meet the emissions reduction target. In other countries with similar standards that have been in place for over 50 years—in countries like the US, mind you—four-wheel drives and utes are still widely available. In Wollongong, our locals drive nearly 18,000 kilometres per year, meaning in 2028 alone people will save $1,392 through the new standards, with an estimated saving of $6,960 over five years.

A bigger electric vehicle market in this country is a good thing. A greater demand for electric vehicles means more jobs for companies like Sicona Battery Technologies in my electorate. Sicona's technology was developed and perfected at my local university, the University of Wollongong's Australian Institute for Innovative Materials, by co-founders Christiaan Jordaan and Drew Minett. I was proud to showcase their innovation right here in Parliament House last year at the Illawarra Clean Energy Expo. Businesses just like this across the Illawarra are leading the way in developing scalable, real-world solutions in clean energy and renewables.

We are expanding the rollout of public charging infrastructure through the $500 million Driving the Nation Fund and the national EV charging network—a network of EV charging infrastructure installed at 117 sites on major highways every 150 kilometres. At the end of 2023, there were over 2,000 fast and ultrafast charging plugs, an increase of over 70 per cent in a year. Governments across the board are ramping up investment in public charging infrastructure.

By implementing a standard, there will be an estimated $143 billion in financial benefits. This includes $108 billion in fuel savings and in excess of $5 billion in health benefits from a reduction in air pollution. So this is good policy for your health and it is good policy for your hip pocket. Our responsible economic management is working in Australia.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Claydon): The time for the discussion has now concluded.