A new network of electric vehicle charging stations will be built around Australia's major cities and freeways if Labor wins the next election.
The push will drive the take up of electric vehicles, which Labor wants to make up half of all new vehicles sold in Australia by 2030.
The ambitious target would be a dramatic increase on current electric vehicle sales, which make up just 0.2 per cent of Australia’s market.
“I’m bullish about (electric vehicles) for the jobs, for the local manufacturing opportunities, for the climate impact, and also, I think because it will create technology,” Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Canberra.
“Do we want to be a country stuck in the past? Or a country joining the rest of the world in the future?”
Mr Shorten said the key to meeting the target was making it easier for people to charge their cars.
“One of the problems is there’s not enough charging stations,” he said.
“(We’ll) put a network of charging stations right around Australia and on national highways, so that people can actually seriously contemplate being able to get an electric vehicle.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government had already taken steps to improve the growth of electric car sales.
“Labor, as I understand it, are talking about taking in 10 years 0.2 per cent of the (electric vehicle) market to 50 per cent,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“He needs to explain how he’s going to make that happen.”
Motoring body the NRMA is calling for a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars as early as 2025.
It’s started building its own network of charging stations, with 10 already built and 30 more underway.
“We can sit here in Australia and continue to fall behind or we can acknowledge the fact that the countries that build cars that we buy … increasingly announce bans on petrol and diesel vehicles,” NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury told the ABC.
But Mr Shorten ruled out a ban.
“We think this is an overdue first step. I’m not going to start saying I’m going to ban vehicles,” he said.
The Australian Automobile Association urged both parties to move towards ultra-low fuel consumption vehicles in a “technology neutral” approach.