Planes, Trains and (electric) Automobiles

by Audrey Quicke

When it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), it’s good to see the Government delivering on a number of pre-Budget promises.

An extra $275.4 million will go towards the Driving the Nation Fund to expand EV and hydrogen charging infrastructure, the Australia Automobile Association will receive $14 million over 4 years to conduct real world emissions and fuel consumption testing of light vehicles, and $15.9 million will help the Commonwealth transition its vehicle fleet (aiming for 75% of new purchases and leases being ‘low emissions’ – not zero emissions – vehicles by 2025).

The Budget also includes the Electric Car Discount, which will see certain EVs exempt from fringe benefits tax and import tax.

Anyone hoping for a nice surprise for EVs in the Budget stocking will be disappointed, as all EV policy measures were preannounced. However, the forthcoming National Electric Vehicle Strategy  is an opportunity for much needed additional policies, like introducing vehicle retirement programs, extending subsidies to electric bikes, and implementing fuel efficiency standards.

Things are gearing up for high speed rail, with $18 million towards establishing the High Speed Rail Authority and $500 million for planning corridor works between Sydney and Newcastle.

The Budget has also confirmed the establishment of a Jet Zero style council. Based on its UK namesake,  the council would encourage emissions reduction in the aviation industry and the use of sustainable aviation fuel.

However, Jet Zero flies a little too close to its snappy name, appearing to have zero funding.

Money for aviation sector support is reported at $139.9 million, but the price tag for airport upgrades and a white paper is also $139.9, leaving *checks calculator* … nothing for Jet Zero.

Reducing emissions from aviation will require significant investment and consideration of measures beyond sustainable aviation fuels, such as a the frequent flyer levy recently recommended by the International Council on Clean Transportation. Providing funding to the councils’ tasked with informing these decisions would be a good start.

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