Electric vehicle spending does not spark joy

by Audrey Quicke

Last year’s budget announcement of a meagre $400,000 towards the development of a national electric vehicle strategy left many asking, “what could that possibly get you?”

The answer is now clear: Nothing. There is still no national electric vehicle strategy in sight. Originally expected in early 2019, the strategy was delayed to mid-2020, then again delayed to late-2020. It is unclear whether Australia will see a national electric vehicle strategy this year.

The 2020–21 Budget has delivered only slightly better in the way of electric vehicle spending.

The $74.5 million towards a future fuels fund is a welcome (albeit old) announcement, enabling business to “integrate new vehicle technologies”. However, the fund is not earmarked for electric vehicle infrastructure alone, but will fund electric, hydrogen and bio-fuel technologies. The funding is administered by ARENA and spread over four years. So, assuming it is spread evenly across technologies, we’re looking at around $6 million for electric vehicle infrastructure per year for the next four years.

There is also $5 million for an “advanced manufacturing facility” in South Australia to assemble electric vehicles and trial vehicle-to-grid technology. Again, a welcome endeavour not backed up by adequate funding.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government will invest $250 million in domestic diesel fuel storage and local refineries in a bid to improve fuel security, resigning Australia to remain an oil dependent nation with no meaningful plan to transition to electromobility. And we are still waiting on that final Liquid Fuel Security Report (after the interim report last year told us Australia only had 20 days’ worth of any one fuel and it would take up to 21 days to implement emergency rationing in the case of a national emergency).

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