Bill- ZERO AND LOW EMISSION VEHICLE DISTANCE-BASED CHARGE BILL 2021

Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:07): I rise gladly to speak on the Zero and Low Emission Vehicle Distance-based Charge Bill 2021, and I would just like to start by referring to something my colleague the member for Burwood was pointing out. He made a fantastic argument about the commonwealth versus state revenue collection. As we know, we have basically a usage charge via the petrol levy—or tax or whatever you want to call it—that comes from the commonwealth at the moment. As the member rightly said, we get 30 cents in the dollar back. So, as he pointed out, we are paying via our fuel levy for roads in other states. Good on them—well done. We get less GST. We are a bigger economy. We are one nation. I am okay with that. We support those states that maybe earn less, and we get more from WA from mining. That is fine. But one thing I think we are doing with this charge is that we are bringing more of a user-pays decision for our road use going forward. When it comes to EVs, I do not drive one yet, but I am pretty sure that when my current lease expires next year I will have the option of getting at least a hybrid and hopefully an EV.

Ms Britnell: Well, that’s up to your whole government. Put it on the list.

Mr FREGON: It is on the list. I am looking forward to it. The member has made a contribution that it has got to be on the list. Well, I am reliably informed by the people down at Waverley Toyota, in my patch at Mount Waverley, that the hybrid Kluger will be available and that the Kluger will be a hybrid. So I am looking forward to that, and a big shout-out to the guys down at Waverley Toyota. My current Kluger is great; it will be even better when it is a hybrid.

We are talking today about this charge. Now, again the member for Burwood talked also about the opposition’s plans to somehow change the budget, to find revenue out of nothing, and a secret plan. I do not think I have heard a better secret plan since Josh Lyman on The West Wing decided that he had a secret plan about inflation, and now the opposition Shadow Treasurer has a secret plan about cutting services or something. I do not know. We will find out more, I guess, when the time comes.

This charge is about equity. It is about the fact of users on the road, like all of us, paying our way as we use the road. I am very surprised that the opposition is against this basic idea of, ‘The more you use something, the more you pay’, because I would have thought that is capitalism, in a sense. I would have thought that if we buy a pack of chips, we pay for a pack of chips, or if I pay for my energy bills, it is because I have used more energy. Now, I am all for—obviously, with this government—supporting those who are vulnerable, those who need help. That is the beauty of having general revenue and collected revenue; it lets us help those who need a bit more of a hand. But at the same time, I generally do not have a problem with the fact that if I am driving more on the roads, I pay my way, and we do that right now with the fuel levy.

I think when you look at manufacturers and technology companies alike, they are rapidly moving our automotive industry towards an electric future. The horse has bolted. I mean, the UK have already said that by 2030 they are not going to sell any petrol cars. Our car manufacturers worldwide have basically stopped R and D on combustion engines. This, in my opinion, is a done deal. Now, members on the side talked about disincentive, and I spoke to a gentleman from my electorate only yesterday when I was doorknocking—Kev—and Kevin had the same question. He said he was concerned about the disincentive, and I get that, because with any increase in charge, it is a logical argument to come back. But that is why we have put in $100 million worth of incentives for the much smaller amount of revenue that we are receiving. This is a structural change. This is a change that Victorians in general, yes, will pay for, but will also get the benefit of. At the moment we pay and we do not get the benefit—not fully.

We must decide as a country also what role we want to play with electric vehicles on our roads. It is not just up to state governments, of which there are a number who are in the transition to the very thing we are talking about today—and New Zealand was mentioned as doing the same thing—we also need our federal government to work on incentives just like we are with our rebates. Maybe they could match our rebates; that would be a good thing.

Now, we are committed to a long-term target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as we talked about on the weekend—the fantastic announcement that was from the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change—and reaching this target requires a transition of our vehicle fleet to zero-emission vehicles. So we are already committed. We are committed to incentivising this transition. I think it was the member for Prahran who stood up and talked about wanting us to transition but then seemed to have a problem that we were starting to change over to EVs. I would have thought that is exactly what transition is, so we might need to check the dictionary on that one.

The $100 million package that I mentioned also includes a $46 million subsidy program to encourage motorists and businesses to make their next vehicle zero emission, with low- or medium-priced vehicles to be a target of the program. Twenty thousand subsidies are more than triple the size of the current zero-emission vehicle fleet in Victoria, with 6000 or thereabouts sold at the moment. Now, these subsidies will increase the supply and range of vehicles available—it makes sense; at the moment one of the problems with the zero-emissions cars is that they are quite pricey, at least a lot of them are. But as more people change over, more people are looking at getting their subsidies of in the vicinity of $3000-odd and the money that you save by moving to a zero-emissions vehicle on top of that. We are talking about the levy today, the federal fuel levy.

The fuel levy makes up a small part of the amount when you put petrol into your car at the pump. When you are paying $1.50, there is a lot of petrol in that price and there is a lot of mark-up for the petrol station, whereas if you are lucky enough to have solar panels at home—and I have not got them yet, but I am hoping to do that soon—you can charge your zero-emission vehicle at home so you are getting renewable energy. As we move even closer and closer to the targets that we are going to have by 2030, we will have renewable energy charging the cars on the roads for a much lower output from each person with a car.

The subsidy program, as I said, will provide for 20 000 eligible vehicles, the first stage being 4000 allotments of $3000. Now, you cannot tell me that that is not an incentive. I mean, we do this in other areas. We do this in the housing market with first home buyers, and we know that has an incentive quality. We know that that affects the housing market. We know that that means for new home owners it is just a little bit easier to get in. That is what we are doing: we are making it a little bit easier. Yes, there are some structural changes, and yes, there is a charge, but responsible government is about looking to the future as well. It is about looking at how we pay for our roads, our hospitals and our infrastructure. Of the money that we bring in at the moment, as we have said, tenfold is going out to encourage zero-emission vehicles. This is a responsible bill, this is a good bill and I commend it to the house.