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Infrastructure and Transport – Transport Electrification

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Tags: Electric Vehicles, Transport

Ms O'CONNOR - In order for your Government to reach the target of net-zero emissions by 2030, which we're already at as a result of the forests set aside under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, I'm sure you'll agree we have to de-carbonise our transport system. However, the proportion of light vehicles in Tasmania that are fully electric at the end of 2021 financial year is 0.07 per cent of electric vehicles, and that's according to the Electric Vehicle Council in its 2020-21 data. Up to the same period, Tasmania had approximately 100 publicly-available electric vehicle charging stations which equates to approximately three electric vehicles per charger.

Why are we dragging our heels so much as a state in electrifying our transport system, and do you agree that the Government can do a lot more?

Mr FERGUSON - Thanks, Ms O'Connor, for your passion for electric vehicles; I share that and the Government has across a number of different portfolios that I'm happy to touch on. But I'll go into detail on my responsibilities in this space. From the Government's point of view, we've opened up the opportunity for a total waiver on stamp duty for people purchasing an electric vehicle, between when that initiative started last year through to 30 June 2023. That's a two year tax holiday on electric vehicles, which is a better deal than non-electric vehicle owners are getting. That applies to new vehicles and used vehicles, as an incentive to see a turnover of vehicles for people who have lots of money and can afford an expensive Tesla. We'd like them to think about selling that into the used car market and buying themselves another new one.

In terms of the whole-of-Government fleet, in my Treasury portfolio - which I'm happy to talk to in detail with Treasury at the table - we have the initiative to convert the Tasmanian Government fleet to electric by 2030 and, as you should be aware, there's progress being reached there.

In relation to charging infrastructure -

Ms O'CONNOR - The question isn't about charging infrastructure.

Mr FERGUSON - Well, you did mention that.

Ms O'CONNOR - I did mention it but it wasn't the question.

Mr FERGUSON - In terms of charging infrastructure, we have a grants program for that. That's not in my responsibility so I'm not the right person to respond to it. I would argue that we're not dragging our feet; we're providing opportunities that are encouraging the take-up of them. We're not going to force Tasmanians to drive an electric car. It's something that they would need to want to do and see the good value in the stamp duty concession which is fully waived through to 30 June of next year. I hope that's successful. I have some very high-level information here, that as of April of this year, we've seen the duty waived on the purchase of 515 new and second-hand vehicles. That has cost the taxpayer $1.2 million in revenue foregone, so it seems that we are making progress.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, minister.

New South Wales the Australian Capital Territory offer really significant incentives for the uptake of electric vehicles. New South Wales offers a $3000 rebate for vehicles under a price cap and removes stamp duty on purchases, which we're doing here, but only for a year which will have limited benefit. ACT offers tax rebates, free registration for two years to all purchasers of EVs and access to $15 000 interest-free loans. The New South Wales Government has committed to 100 per cent of the Government and bus fleets being electric.

Do you agree that more incentives are available, and ought to be considered in order to accelerate the transition to an electric transport system?

Mr FERGUSON - It sounds like other states are doing good things as well. From your description of New South Wales -

Ms O'CONNOR - A fair bit more than we are.

Mr FERGUSON - the description of New South Wales seems very similar to our arrangements. We will always give consideration to future measures. I also encourage you to see the sense of the duty exemption that has been put in place, and that has encouraged a number of people to bring forward their purchase and to grab the duty holiday, while it was on offer.

Ms O'CONNOR - So have petrol prices. Minister, when the former premier, Mr Gutwein, became climate change minister, he said he would be obtaining an electric vehicle as his ministerial car. Will you show leadership, and make the same commitment? We do have to lead by example and electric fleet cars are available.

Mr FERGUSON - I won't make that commitment in front of you today.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is no skin off your nose.

Mr FERGUSON - The ministerial fleet is part of the Government fleet that is to be converted to electric by 2030, and -

Ms O'CONNOR - That is eight years away.

Mr FERGUSON - Excuse me.

Ms O'CONNOR - Excuse you?

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, please stop talking over the minister.

Mr FERGUSON - I do not have the exact numbers - it is not my responsibility - but I understand that two of the cars already are hybrid vehicles. That conversion has already commenced. The government fleet list has also seen the number of vehicles being shaped according to the carbon emissions profile of the vehicles, so that conversion is occurring progressively now. I am not going to make policy-on-the-run statements for you today, but -

Ms O'CONNOR - It is not about policy.

Mr FERGUSON - former premier Gutwein's commitment -

Ms O'CONNOR - It is about showing leadership.

Mr FERGUSON - If I may. Former premier Gutwein's commitment has been honoured, because I believe two vehicles in the ministerial fleet are Toyota RAV4 hybrids.

Ms O'CONNOR - Just back to electric vehicles, minister. The Government made a commitment last year to convert the fleet of government vehicles to 100 per cent electric by 2030 and you just reinforced that in the previous answer to my question. The Budget papers note that the target for this conversion in the 2021-22 financial year is 50 vehicles, while only 13 vehicles were changed over to electric in the previous financial year. If we accept that the 2021- 22 financial year is not quite over yet, how close is the Government to achieving the target of electrifying 50 of its fleet vehicles for the year.

Mr FERGUSON - I invite you to bring this back to the Treasury outputs when I have the Treasury officials at the table. That is the output and the expertise in that department. I have quickly located a high level update. I don't feel comfortable doing outputs of a different portfolio without the proper committee process. I'm again drawing from Treasury briefs when I don't have all the folders at the table, or the staff. The advice I have is that as of 31 March 2022, there are 14 battery-electric vehicles, 13 plug-in hybrid vehicles, and 421 hybrid vehicles.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay, I'll come back to that in Treasury.

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you. I'd like you to do that. But I'll make sure that I finish this sentence. There are a further seven battery-electric vehicles, eight plug-in hybrids, and 262 hybrids currently on order. It'd be better to explore it with Mr Ferrall.