Morrison and Albanese talk about electric vehicles in the first debate of the election
Last night during the leaders’ debate, someone asked a question about electric vehicles.
“Hi guys, I’d like to know a bit more about your battery electric policies from an investment perspective, and also how you’re going to help Australians get into electric vehicles? “
A good question. I’m glad someone asked about electric vehicles in the leaders’ debate, because from what I could observe, that question was not put to the two PM candidates in a way that they can both answer it.
We know that technology isn’t a huge focus for either of them, with the sector pretty much glossed over in both the 2022 federal budget and Labor’s response to the budget. That said, work possesses said he wanted to explore investment opportunities and subsidies for electric vehicles in Australia if the party were to be elected to power. While we’re at it, here’s where the major parties stand on tech, as it all ties into the policies the two leaders are adopting in the 2022 federal election.
Here’s what current Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese had to say about electric vehicles.
“It’s part of a made in Australia future,” the leader of the Australian Labor Party said during the Sky News debate last night. Albanese responded first.
“We need to do more things here. It makes no sense that everything that goes into a battery: copper, lithium, nickel, is here, we send it out to sea, and the batteries are made. This is a potential major industry here in Australia, and we need to do more to create these high value jobs. I support the export of our resources, but wherever possible we should create value here rather than see value added elsewhere and jobs created elsewhere. And that’s what we will do on electric vehicles.
Albanese also touched on old promises.
“The Prime Minister said during the 2019 campaign that electric vehicles would ‘end the weekend’. They said ‘they can’t tow your trailer, can’t tow your boat’. It was all nonsense. The truth is that electric vehicles are here, they will continue to develop in the future,” he continued.
“We are going to reduce taxes on electric vehicles, in particular one measure that will make a difference is the removal of the social benefits tax for all those who are below the luxury car tax threshold, because that is how that a whole range of cars enter the park.”
“A little over 12 months ago I was in Newcastle and we paved the way for a battery manufacturer, right here in Australia,” Morrison said.
“So they’re made here, and they’re going to be made here more and more. Angus Taylor said tonight that as part of his plan to get to net zero by 2050, we’re investing $22 billion by 2030 to make sure we develop clean energy technology, which includes batteries, which allow us to transition our economy, and not just our own, but also the economies of our region, to ensure that they can access this technology.
“Now Anthony Albanese is right about critical minerals and rare earths. Those rare earths and critical minerals, especially from Western Australia, are a major opportunity for Australia, and in 2019 when I’m went to the White House, I said to the president: ‘this is what we have to do together’.
“Critical minerals and rare earths, we can mine in Australia, but we have to make sure that the take-off agreements that need to be in place to justify the investment in the first place can be achieved. And so we have worked with Japan and we are working with India, it’s called the Quad: Japan, India, USA and Australia We came together as leaders and critical development of minerals and rare earths in Australia, which will give us many opportunities, but also the treatment of these.
“A large Australian company, Lynas, is a company doing this right now. There’s also another Australian company in Western Australia that we’ve just committed over a billion dollars to, to make sure they can get this processing and resource development in place right now, so we have this plan to get there, and I think Australia can be a continued energy powerhouse in the future. We’ve done it so far, but as we move forward over the next 20 years, and especially over the next 10, we’re going to position Australia well to do it again.
Sorting out what executives had to say about electric vehicles
Albanese’s response was nothing new, really. We’ve heard all of this from Labor before: that they want to make products on land and that they want to help facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles by local industry and by reducing taxes on electric vehicles.
Albanese pointed to the removal of the employee benefit tax for electric vehicles below the luxury car tax threshold. This is not a policy that would necessarily result in widespread adoption of electric vehicles, but rather a policy that incentivizes electric vehicles to become work cars purchased by employers.
Another key part of Labour’s position on electric vehicles, although glossed over in Albanese’s response, was the removal of the import duty for electric vehicles, a 5% tax on imported electric vehicles . This would apply to electric cars below Australia’s luxury car tax threshold and make electric cars more affordable, but ultimately that’s where Labor’s electric vehicle policy ends for the moment. A 5% price cut on Australia’s cheapest electric vehicle right now (the MG ES EV) would only bring it down to $42,740 (down from $44,990). It is not yet an affordable territory.
Morrison’s response, however, was more focused on establishing the industry around things that will in electric vehicles, which is not at odds with what we’ve heard before. He focused a lot on rare earths, which go into making expensive technology components and batteries, as well as what the government has already done, like supporting rare earth companies like Iluka and Lynas. Morrison also referred to the opening of a lithium-ion battery manufacturer near Newcastle last year.
It is interesting to me that the Coalition still does not have a policy for the adoption of electric vehicles in Australia. Rather, these things have been run by the state, with no national plan to get people driving electric cars. Labor wants to federalize incentives for the adoption of electric vehicles through import tariffs and tax cuts, but we see no policy challenger to that. However, Morrison did not mention that the federal government is supporting the rollout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure across Australia.
If you want to watch the full leaders’ debate beyond electric vehicles, you can watch it on YouTube here.