Hon Tom Koutsantonis MP – EV Summit 2022 address

Hon Tom Koutsantonis MP – EV Summit 2022 address

by Katie

Speaker 1:

And now we’ll be going to South Australia to hear from the honorable Tom Koutsantonis, the minister for infrastructure and transport, who’ll provide us with insights on what’s happening in South Australia, following their election.

                Minister, you have the floor.

Tom Koutsantonis:

Oh, thank you very much for the introduction, and thank you very much for having me. I was intrigued by the earlier speakers about national consistency, and I couldn’t agree more, which is what drove the Malinauskas Labor government in South Australia to take a policy to the election of not supporting an electric vehicle tax on a state based regime.

                I am very concerned, as was your panel, about the patchwork of policies around electric vehicles across the entire nation. We are burdening our constituents with a patchwork of policy that will mean that our constituents will be paying more, and get, I think, poorer quality outcomes from the transition to electric vehicles. We need consistent national policy, and that’s what we’re arguing for. There should be one framework about the import of electric vehicles. There should be one policy about a tax and regime for electric vehicles, and it shouldn’t be done on a state basis.

                On a state basis, we will get competition from the states. We will get different types of outcomes. We see that now with car registration. We can’t afford to have that when it comes to importing electric vehicles. So we took to the election, a policy of decarbonization, electrification and incentivizing electric vehicles in South Australia, and we’re committed to continuing to do that. So we’ll be abolishing the EV tax here in South Australia. We are committed to the rollout of electric vehicles. We’re rolling out charging stations across South Australia with a relatively large and significant budget to try and incentivize charging.

                We are working with our electricity producers to make sure that smart charging can be incorporated with the purchase of new vehicles. And I would say to manufacturers, they have a responsibility here as well at the point of sale. And I am getting very concerned about the infrastructure at the point of sale for ChargeNet is being delivered to electric vehicle owners. Basically to dumb it down, they’re being given emergency charging equipment rather than smart charging equipment to install at their homes or to use. And I think there needs to be a legislative or regulatory framework about what comes with an electric vehicle.

                We’ve also brought in our own incentives, and those incentives are on a cash basis. There are a $3,000 subsidy for the purchase of a new electric vehicle here in South Australia as well as registration subsidies and stamp duty subsidies. But that’s not going to be enough. Electric vehicles need to be affordable. And I think there’s been a misinterpretation across the nation about what our constituents are looking for. There is a theme or a vibe going around the country that working class families or working families don’t want electric vehicles. It’s just simply not true.

                You ask any working family in my electorate or electorates all across Australia who are struggling with fuel prices. They want to see the transition happen faster. And they’re being advocated by people who don’t understand their concerns and needs. They want this transition and they want it quickly. They want to be able to buy affordable electric vehicles that serve their needs. They want to understand how it can work and they want to make sure that there is a consistent framework across the country and they don’t want to wait. So it’s up to us, the policy makers to do what we can.

                And I put this in terms of the other transitions. The former Weatherill Labor government, which I was energy minister and energy minister now in this current government, set about a transition that was mocked nationally. We were mocked when we built the big battery. We were mocked when we attempted to decarbonize our electricity network. We were mocked when we closed our last coal-fired power station. But these are now the laws. And the services that batteries provide to the grid are transforming the grid and lowering prices, the same thing can be done now with electric vehicles. They offer more services than just decarbonizing travel. They offer amenity.

                And I just point out as transport minister, when we decarbonize and electrify our passenger transport fleet, I ask you, what the amenity changes will be in our central business districts, where noise reduction from public transport that sees electric vehicles without the reverberation of diesel engines across CBDs that are magnified because of the buildings, the amenity improvements to living in the CBD and the density improvements we get from that amenity improvement. There are lots of benefits, that let alone what electric vehicle charging can do to stabilize the grid. What it can do to of course, offer FCAS services as frequency control ancillary services that can offer when people aren’t connected to the grid, when we have smart charging.

                There is a whole concept around electric vehicles that is being ignored by a lot of policy makers. But I think for the first time in a decade, we have a policy partner in Chris Bowen and the rest of the states, that acknowledge that this transition is coming and coming fast. And our constituents are ahead of us. Quite frankly, they’re moving faster than the policy makers. And it’s now up to us to make the regulations and the policy framework to move that transition as quickly as we possibly can. And we’re committed to it.

                So thank you for the opportunity to speak to you briefly. I’m happy to take any questions if you want. I’m in your hands.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, minister. Unfortunately, we’re a bit tight for time today. So we might just say that from mocking to applauding, we appreciate the quick moves from your government to repeal the road user charge for electric vehicles and to bring in a variety of policies to lead the way. So thank you, minister.


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