CONFUSION remains over which states are imposing road-use charges on electric vehicles and which states intend to and when.
Victoria is currently the only state actively imposing a charge on electric vehicles (EVs), though some states have quietly announced they plan to introduce them in the future.
NSW will introduce a similar charge when EVs make up 30 per cent of new vehicle sales or in 2027, whichever comes first, while Western Australia also plans to introduce a charge in 2027.
South Australia was one of the first jurisdictions to propose and legislate an EV charge, but it was scrapped by the new SA government earlier this month before it could take effect.
Victoria’s existing tax is also subject to an ongoing High Court challenge, which has become a broader constitutional fight about the types of taxes states can levy.
South Australia director of the Australia Institute, Noah Schultz-Byard, said the “messy patchwork of reforms” from state to state was difficult to understand and created a disincentive for those considering switching to an EV.
“They make people think twice …when we should be doing all we can to encourage more Australians behind the wheel of an environmentally friendly car sooner rather than later,” he said.
Infrastructure Partnerships Australia is an industry think tank which supports the introduction of distance based road-user charges not just for EV users, but eventually, for everyone.
Its chief executive Adrian Dwyer does not believe Victoria’s charge has scared off prospective EV owners.
Instead, he said the take up in Victoria had been quicker than states with no charges, like Queensland.
He said new road taxes were needed, with the federal government’s fuel excise in “slow and terminal decline” due to more efficient cars and eventually, electric ones.
“If you don’t solve that problem, at some stage, you end up with a system where there’s no cost for the use of a road,” he said.
FAIRER ROAD TAXES
Marion Terrill is the head of transport and cities at the Grattan Institute.
She said whatever the HighCourt decided in the Victoria case, it was clear new road taxes would be needed to manage the future of electric cars.
“Even though EVs don’t cause carbon emissions, they still cause accidents, as well as congestion, and still contribute to the kind of hogging of public space associated with cars,” she said.
The Grattan Institute has previously advocated for congestion pricing, which is used in cities like London and Stockholm, to help resolve gridlock in Australian cities.
But she said innovative road taxes could also account for carbon emissions, reflect actual damage being done to roads (vehicle weight or number of axles), as well as where and when the car was being driven.
Director of policy at the Electric Vehicle Council, Jake Whitehead, said flat-distance charges like Victoria’s ZLEV charge were unfair to those from regional areas, who had no choice but to drive longer distances.
“Simply slapping an extra cost on EVs is a short sighted and pretty dumb way to improve the efficiency of our transport system more broadly,” he said.
Earlier this month, the ACT announced its registration pricing would be based on vehicle emissions from July 2023,