‘Crazy attitude’: NSW Minister lashes Canberra for inaction on climate policy

By Tom Rabe The Sydney Morning Herald August 31, 2021

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has criticised his federal counterparts for a lack of leadership on climate action, accusing some of underestimating the impact of global warming on future generations and leaving the states to “go it alone” on reform.

Mr Constance lamented the “crazy attitude” some federal ministers held towards electric vehicles, adding that the Labor Party possessed a strong policy on EVs ahead of the 2019 election.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance.CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY

Months after NSW announced it would abolish stamp duty on electric vehicles in an attempt to drive uptake of the technology, Mr Constance said no government in Australia should own a fleet car with a combustion engine by 2030.

“You know I get highly agitated when I hear federal politicians, not understanding how serious this is for our country and our children,” Mr Constance told a Committee for Sydney event on Tuesday.

Mr Constance, who in June committed to converting the NSW rail network to renewable energy by 2025, said that many state government initiatives were being met with “nothing” from Canberra.

“It irritates me no end that we have these great state-based initiatives and…there is nothing that’s been provided from Canberra to be able to partner with the states in terms of the initiatives that we’re doing,” he said.

“I certainly feel at a national level we’ve got this great ability to reset the public discourse in terms of climate change policies…. Forget the 2050 target, we can get on with this now to generate jobs, to generate innovation and transport can lead the way.”

He later told the Herald that the federal government needed to do more to encourage private sector growth in the renewables sector.

“We can’t make this whole debate about targets, it has to be practical measures that drive innovation. You need federal support for industry, manufacturing, research and development,” he said.Advertisement

He said a lack of federal leadership on the transition away from fuel excise tax and towards a broader road user charge had left Australia with a patchwork of policies.

“Canberra should have set a road user charge, instead, now look at it. You wouldn’t end up with these perverse outcomes where there’s a good policy in one state and a horrendous policy in another. We’d be far better off if we were in it together,” Mr Constance said.

NSW announced at the most recent state budget it would impose a road-user charge of 2.5 cents a kilometre by 2027, or once electric vehicles make up 30 per cent of new car sales – whichever comes first.

Stamp duty will be removed from EVs that cost less than $78,000 by September this year, and a $3000 rebate given to the first 25,000 vehicles sold in NSW for under $68,000.

The NSW distance-based charge is the same price as the Victorian model, though the southern state introduced the tax in July this year.

Mr Constance said the federal government needed to move past the policies and attitudes towards EVs it took to the last election. He said Labor’s election policy – which set a target for 50 per cent of new cars sold by 2030 to be electric – was a good one

“Forget the last federal election. Forget that Labor had a good policy and the other side was still scrambling [to] deal with the issues. Forget that. The scope has changed,” he said.

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