South Australia decides to hamper EV development efforts with road user charges
In Australian news, an idiot state government does an idiotic thing because apparently climate change doesn't exist.
Australia's political system is a 1 for 1 copy of that of the United Kingdom's with different names corresponding to the same level of Government. Much alike to the United Kingdom's political system, Australia has three levels of government; the federal government, the state government and local government (better known as council). America also has three levels of government and that works for America. It works for America because the American Government has to provide support to 328 million people. Australia only has to do it for 25 million people and to put that into perspective the State of New York in America has a population of 20 million people.
Last week I was praising our constitutional monarchy looking over at America's mess of an election in wonderment (not because of the result but because of the fact that somehow a sitting president can make legal power grabs after an election has already been won). This week I'm ready to go back to slagging it. And for once? I don't want to slag my own home state government. Because they're a pack of muppets (the Victorian Government that is). I want to take aim at the South Australian government.
By-en-large I haven't had a problem with the South Australian government in the past years. Their policy has been largely un-damaging and their move to clean energy state-wide has been delightful. So much so that it's convinced the other states of Australia to slowly but surely follow suit. And that's brilliant.
But this morning I sat at my desk in my office as I do every day and opened the Australian Financial Review to have a gander. And there I saw it. The stupidest decision any state government in Australia has ever made. It was so stupid that I had to sit there and absorb it for a minute. The South Australian Government want to introduce a new tax for electric vehicle owners. A tax they're disguising as what they call a road user charge. And get this, it's a world first.
It's not exactly a small tax either. The South Australian Government want to charge $500AUD per electric car per year. That equates to about $1 million per year. Or in Government terms, chump change.
I don't even kid you about this, Treasurer Rob Lucas yesterday said "Someone needs to take the lead, now's the time to bite the bullet and introduce reform. There's great logic to it."
I have a question for you Lucas. What ruddy logic? There is zero logic to this policy. You make zero dollars from it at this specific second compared to the billions of dollars you spend on roads and infrastructure per year and you basically discourage everyone from buying an electric vehicle. You're charging someone who already pays a premium to be environmentally friendly just to use the road and this is additional to the yearly registration you force ever road user to pay.
Honestly, I feel like I need to write an open letter to this muppet the South Australian Government call a minister. You've got this huge opportunity on the exit of COVID19 to implement huge policy reform on electric vehicles and stimulate an entire niche economy into a major sector and what do you do instead? You make the conscious decision to murder the sector in broad daylight.
I want to digress further here because any road user and taxpayer in South Australia should be insulted by this ridiculous rampage against EV users. The South Australian Government is currently held by a party named the Liberal National Party, they're the equivalent of the American Republicans or the British Tories. And amazingly they're pro-climate affirmative action. Well apparently now, apparently they believe it's easier to just get people to buy second hand Holden Commodores which do 0-100 in 20 seconds and eat trees and drill oil in the process.
I mean we're talking about a state with 2,000 electric vehicles in service. They don't even have a bloody Tesla dealership, so it's not like they're the California of Australia or anything. But still, this all-knowing all-seeing state government pushes on and says "we're going to get all EV drivers to pay for our roads".
Except, you aren't are you Rob? In 2019 South Australia had an infrastructure spend of $11.9 billion AUD. That means you're discouraging people from buying EVs and slugging those who already do the right thing with a $500AUD annual fee for a measly 0.009% of your total yearly budget on roads. In fact, your $1 million AUD EV tax won't even fund a roundabout in a local town. That's how useless the tax is. I have another suggestion for you though, because why not?
Tax the road users who use petrol vehicles an extra $20AUD per year. You have a running total of 1,008,595 road users who drive petrol vehicles which means by charging every person who drives a petrol car an extra $20AUD you'll make an additional $18 million AUD to what you would've made if you taxed EV drivers $500AUD per year.
It gets worse as well. For anyone in Adelaide who were hanging out for a Tesla dealership, I can guarantee you won't be getting one now. Tesla is a supply-driven company with a slimline logistics structure. If you want a car you have to order it, they normally have little stock and they have near no infrastructure here in Australia that would allow them to build up stock to sell. They do this to keep their prices high and their margins low and it works. So they aren't going to put a dealership in a state which charges an exclusive to electric vehicle tax.
It just adds to the neverending taxation costs Australia's governments place on call cars and not just EVs. That includes the infamous luxury car tax, fuel excise, registration, GST and stamp duty. At this stage, you might as well just stop calling them different names and call it the screw Australian motorists tax. This EV tax can have a very special name though. The South Australian Government should call it the "we've lost our moral compasses, can you find it for us tax?".
This basically puts South Australian state policy at odds with the entire world and I really do hope the world calls them out for it. There's a time for taxing electronic vehicles, that I can promise. Everything needs a certain amount of tax paid. But that time is not right now. It's not while the industry is still growing and it's not while that industry is attempting to push into territory (Australia) that has classically been seen more as a negative on a balance sheet and less as a positive.
Here's me calling you out Lucas. If you think for one second the world's biggest luxury manufacturers of electric vehicles won't hesitate to leave this market or much worse give us the scraps. You're severely overestimating your power and worse still; you're a politician in power with little to no knowledge of economics or law. So take the retirement cheque and go and teach social politics at university or whatever you stupid politicians do when you've given up trying to tell experts that you know better than them. Because I've got news for you, in case you were wondering, you don't.