MPs want Parliament to charge ahead on electric cars

A cross-party delegation of federal MPs has called for electric vehicle charging infrastructure to be installed at Parliament House, as part of efforts in Canberra to spur the nation’s transition to low-emissions transport.

Crossbenchers Zali Steggall, Helen Haines and Rebekha Sharkie are leading the campaign, with members of a bipartisan group of MPs advocating for more action to address carbon emissions from transport.

Liberals Bridget Archer, Warren Entsch and John Alexander, and senior Labor and Greens members have written to Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan proposing charging stations be installed in Parliament’s public and private car parks, to help address so-called “range anxiety” and promote wider EV use.

Ms Steggall said there was bipartisan appetite in Parliament to help promote Australia’s uptake of EVs. Data from the Electric Vehicle Council showed battery and plug-in electric vehicles accounted for 0.7 per cent of all car sales in Australia last year, well below the global average of 4.2 per cent.

Despite modelling showing EVs could make up as much as 26 per cent of new car sales by 2030, fewer than 7000 drivers bought EVs in Australia last year, despite significant rises across Europe, China, India and the United States.

“With the installation of chargers, Parliament will be in step with many other communities that are facilitating our transition to electric vehicles,” the Warringah MP said.

“We must look at more ways to progress adoption of electric vehicles, including reducing the upfront cost of vehicles through tax rebates or raising vehicle emissions standards on light passenger vehicles.”

Ms Steggall was unable to access an EV model from the fleet provided for federal MPs last year and instead drives a hybrid model. A small number of a Hyundai EV model is now available, and a trial of the Tesla Model 3 is under way in the ComCar fleet, used to transport MPs in Canberra.

Ms Sharkie, the Centre Alliance MP for Mayo, said Parliament should lead by example.

“Much needs to be done but supporting the transition to low emission vehicles by making Australia’s Parliament an electric-vehicle-friendly destination is a small but practical way to lead by example.”

Opposition MPs including Chris Bowen, Catherine King, Josh Wilson and Peta Murphy signed the letter, along with Greens leader Adam Bandt and independent senator Rex Patrick.

Liberal Jason Falinski made similar calls in January 2020.

Dr Haines, who represents the northern Victorian seat of Indi, said EVs would be a boon for regional Australia, allowing fuel to be generated in country towns and remote areas.

“That would be a brand new multibillion-dollar industry for the regions,” she said.

“More and more towns in my electorate are seeking to install EV chargers, to attract tourists to our region. The Parliament should take a lead from regional Australia and get on with backing this industry.

“Local businesses like the Winton Raceway and events like the TARGA motor race in Mansfield are already thinking of how they can incorporate EVs into their business models – regional Australians are pretty pragmatic about this kind of stuff, and the government should just back them.”

Extracted from AFR

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