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NSW Environment Minister opposes electric car tax backed by Treasurer

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean wants to “turbo charge” the uptake of electric cars in the state and believes a road user charge for them should not be introduced until they make up a substantial proportion of the national fleet.

The view puts him at odds with Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who has voiced support for a tax aimed at the vehicles such as those adopted by Victoria and South Australia.

Governments across Australia disagree on how best to support the uptake of electric cars.

Governments across Australia disagree on how best to support the uptake of electric cars.Credit:Bloomberg

In order to decarbonise the economy by 2050 the entire car fleet needs to be electrified by then. Given the life expectancy of new cars, this means a substantial proportion of it must be electric by 2035, which demands government support, Mr Kean said.

“I get that we need to pay for our road infrastructure, but my view is a tax should not be coming into effect until they make up a certain percentage of new cars,” he told the Herald.

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He said 20 per cent might be an appropriate level. At present in Australia the sale of electric vehicles is just 0.76 per cent, lagging markets such as Britain on 10.6 per cent.

Mr Kean said the NSW government would release a comprehensive electric car policy in the coming months.

The governments of South Australia and Victoria have attracted criticism from car manufacturers and electric vehicle advocates for introducing road user taxes aimed at electric car owners to make up for fuel taxes that they do not have to pay.

This week, the managing director of Volkswagen Australia Michael Bartsch said he could not convince his German head office to supply Australians with the company’s top-selling mid-range electric cars because of “embarrassing” local laws.

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