Road user fees for electric vehicles are inevitable in the ACT, but the government needs to continue to encourage zero-emission vehicle take-up in the meantime, Chief Minister Andrew Barr has said.
Mr Barr on Monday said the ACT would likely follow a NSW model that would apply a distance charge of 2.5 cents per kilometre driven on electric vehicles from 2027, but the territory would need to work out the fine detail in the meantime.
"It is inevitable but it's not happening in the next several years, so people need not worry at this point about there being any significant changes," Mr Barr said.
"In NSW, the date is 2027, so that's the sort of timeframe that would be the ball park for the ACT. We're not going to be an island within NSW that has a radically different set of policy settings.
"Between here and then, we're looking to encourage the uptake of the vehicles. NSW has a really good policy framework there. We'll endeavour to do just a little bit better than them, I think."
Applications for interest-free loans from the ACT government's sustainable household scheme to cover up to $15,000 of the cost of an eligible electric vehicle, opened on Monday.
Mr Barr said the ACT government would announce more initiatives next year to encourage electric vehicle take-up. "This is a really significant part of our pathway to our emission reduction targets. So expect more. We'd be able to go even quicker, put our foot to the accelerator even more, if we had a federal government supporting the states and territories," he said.
"At the moment, it feels like we are towing the feds. If we were both heading in the same direction, then a lot more could be done a lot more quickly."
Mr Barr said he hoped the 2022 federal election campaign would be more mature than the 2019 campaign, which featured "really unhelpful and clearly over-the-top rhetoric ... [about] ending the weekend and all that rubbish the Prime Minister has had to embarrassingly walk back and deny he ever said it".
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Katherine McConnell, the chief executive of Brighte, which is the sustainable household scheme financier, said electric vehicles were the future, and cutting transport emissions was key to reduce Australia's overall greenhouse gas emissions.
"Next year we will be offering EV finance in other states and territories for Australians across the nation to own an EV and drive the clean energy revolution. With already 2000 people registering their interest to purchase an EV, I have no doubt the ACT will lead the way to become a territory of zero-emission vehicles and homes," Ms McConnell said.
The number of electric cars registered in Canberra has doubled in a year, with more than 750 added to the territory's roads since January, as debate grows on how fees will be applied to electric vehicle owners.
A group of 25 companies and organisations used an open letter in April to call a Victorian tax on electric vehicles the worst electric vehicle policy in the world.
"It is somewhat disingenuous to suggest that roads are funded by the fuel excise, as those funds are collected by the federal government and go towards general revenue. If the state government is looking to increase revenue, there are far better ways to go about it that don't disincentivise the use of electric vehicles," the letter, whose signatories included Hyundai, Volkswagen, Uber, Jet Charge, the Electric Vehicle Council, Solar Citizens, Environment Victoria and the Australia Institute, said.
The Victorian government collects 2.5 cents per kilometre travelled in an electric vehicle, with registered drivers required to declare the distance driven when they renew the vehicle's registration each year, in a move it said would make up for foregone Commonwealth fuel excise revenue.
A High Court challenge has been launched against the tax, with lawyers for two electric vehicle owners arguing the state does not have the constitutional power to levy the charge.
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