Electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure in Australia has stalled, while the rest of the world continues to execute impressive EV strategies. Instead of being the driving force in uptake across the nation, once again our Federal Government has its head in the sand when it comes to implementing innovative measures.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us we must be open to change and be able to adapt quickly. Now is the time for Australia to develop an innovative and more importantly a coordinated EV strategy that will enable the infrastructure to be built, encourage EV purchases, and assist in steering each state and territory towards their net zero emission targets.

Earlier this year, the Federal Government released its national electric vehicles strategy discussion paper, Future Fuels Strategy, which showed a complete lack of forward thinking and progression in the space.

Missing from the strategy are financial incentives for motorists to purchase and use electric vehicles, targets for new electric car sales and minimum fuel emissions standards. No provisions have been made for electric vehicle charging stations, or infrastructure, in any of the country’s major government-funded road projects. Fast charging facilities at frequent spacing would be a step in the right direction to encourage people to take up electric vehicles.

Due to the Federal Government’s lack of action, the responsibility has now fallen on our state governments, local councils, and private enterprises to pick up the pieces and make electric vehicle usage easier and more accessible.

All states and territories have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by setting a net zero target for 2050, yet the Federal Government is reluctant to make any concrete commitments.

With transport contributing to roughly 17 per cent of the 51 billion tonnes of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is a significant sector that demands attention.

As a short-term solution, state governments have placed an immediate focus on their own fleets.

The Australian Capital Territory is the clear leader in Australia, according to the Electric Vehicle Council. Buses produced 52 per cent of the government’s overall emissions last year in the ACT, more than triple that of fleet vehicles. As a result, there is now a focus on ensuring the territory’s entire bus fleet has net zero emissions by 2040.

New South Wales has been proactive at transitioning their current diesel fleet to electric and hydrogen buses and has pledged to purchase 30 per cent of its fleet as EVs

The sunshine state has the longest intrastate charging network, known as the Queensland Electric Super Highway.

While in Victoria, there are 40 hybrid buses on Melbourne roads and eight in the Latrobe Valley, according to the Victorian Government’s Department of Transport.

It is disappointing to see the state will be implementing, from 1 July a 2.5 cent per kilometre tariff for EV usage, similar to SA Gov’t plan announced in November 20, a tax that they claim is to replace declining fuel excise revenue.

There isn’t too much action in Western Australia other than a “plan” to build Australia’s longest intrastate charging network.

And South Australia has announced a goal to sell only electric passenger vehicles by 2035 and aims to transition its entire government-owned fleet of 6,800 vehicles to electric by 2030.

The recent announcement by the NSW government to abolish stamp duty of EV’s priced under $78k is good news although somewhat tainted by no dispensation for vehicles over $78k (which the majority are) until 2027 at which point a 2.5c/km levy is to be imposed.

This action from our state governments is a step in the right direction, however it is not enough. Our lack of innovation and strategy on a national level will discourage manufacturers from sending their vehicles to Australia, as we are increasingly being seen as laggards in this space. VW announced today that they will stop selling combustion engine cars in Europe by 2035, they have also claimed their entire fleet will be carbon dioxide neutral by 2050.

Clearly this is not going away and our Federal Government urgently needs to lead the way by implementing forward-thinking policies that will incentivise EV purchases and set a national standard for charging stations and infrastructure. Only then will the transition to electric vehicles be appealing to everyday Australians.