The Morrison government's derision of Labor's electric cars policy has been undermined after it emerged that the Coalition has spent millions of dollars encouraging Australians to use the vehicles and its MPs routinely spruik the technology.
The government has aggressively criticised Labor's election pledge that half of all new cars sold in 2030 would be electric, claiming it would "end the weekend" by forcing Australians to stop driving petrol-guzzling 4WDs.
A Liberal Party advertisement running on Twitter, shared by Energy Minister Angus Taylor on Friday, derides Labor leader Bill Shorten's statement that electric vehicles could be charged in eight to 10 minutes.
The ad claims that in fact, "electric cars will tend to charge between about eight and nine hours overnight".
However in a media release in October last year, Mr Taylor said electric vehicles "will soon have access to an ultra-rapid charging network" thanks to a $6 million federal grant.
"The ultra-rapid charge will provide a range of up to 400 kilometres in just 15 minutes, compared to a current charging time of several hours," Mr Taylor stated.
"Electric vehicles have the potential to lower transport costs, enhance fuel security, and increasingly create more sustainable cities with less pollution and better health outcomes for our communities."
Mr Taylor said on Monday that Labor had set an electric vehicle target "without a strategy to achieve it".
"The government welcomes Australians making the choice to drive electric vehicles, but Labor wants to force Australians out of the cars they love into smaller, more expensive cars," he said.
"Technology should be supported and be allowed to grow at a natural pace - not rushed unnecessarily, or forced onto people."
The International Energy Agency says national targets for electric vehicles are an important policy tool to cut transport emissions.
The government's current rhetoric on electric vehicles also contradicts statements by then-Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg in January last year when he likened the scale of the "exciting technological disruption" to the introduction of the iPhone.
"Capitalising on a declining cost curve, new investments in recharging infrastructure and significant improvements in battery capacity, the industry has now real momentum in Europe, Asia and North America, which will inevitably be replicated here," Mr Frydenberg wrote.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday said electric vehicles were unaffordable and were "not going to tow your trailer. It's not going to tow your boat ... Bill Shorten wants to end the weekend when it comes to his policy on electric vehicles."
The National Roads and Motorists' Association has dismissed claims that drivers of large vehicles will be left stranded by Labor's target, which is 11 years away and would still allow traditional engines in half the vehicles sold. The NRMA says electric utes and vans are being developed and electric buses exist now.
Sam Crosby, Labor's candidate for Reid, on Twitter cited a number of public appearances by Coalition MPs spruiking electric vehicles.
Nationals leader Michael McCormack last month tweeted that the NRMA was installing electric vehicle chargers throughout NSW that "will not only support the local community but will help attract more tourists".
In 2017 Mr Frydenberg tweeted that he test drove the Tesla Model S at Parliament House.
In 2015 Stuart Robert tweeted that he "Just toured the unbelievable Tesla car factory. A real part of the future of the automotive industry" and the same year, Senator Linda Reynolds thanked the University of Western Australia for "creating both the first electric jet ski and Lotus and for the ride in both!"
At Senate estimates on Monday, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation chief executive Ian Learmonth said it was no secret Australia was "well behind" in electric vehicle uptake compared to other developed nations - a lag his federal loans agency was seeking to address.
The corporation's electric vehicle industry report says that without intervention, electric vehicles would comprise 20 per cent of sales in 2030, which could increase to 50 per cent with "moderate intervention".
Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari, who has frequently been joined by Coalition MPs in support of the technology, said the government's recent position was "surprising and disappointing".
"[Josh Frydenberg] came out and said electric vehicles offer great economic opportunities, but then hasn't done anything about that opportunity," he said.
"As soon as the Labor Party comes out with a plan to actually do something [the government] have forgotten everything they said in the past.
"While every other developed nation has a national program that supports their [electric vehicle] sector to succeed, we have a Prime Minister and Energy Minister who are rubbishing them," he said.
Labor's climate change and energy spokesman Mark Butler said the Liberals were "total hypocrites ... Scott Morrison and the Liberals are using the tired old scare campaign playbook that Tony Abbott wrote 10 years ago."
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