Our final speaker for today is a man that doesn’t require an introduction here in Canberra. He’s the newest Senator and representative of the Australian Capital Territory. And we had the great privilege of being in Glasgow at the UN Climate Conference together, where we saw firsthand the global interest in electric vehicles in cleaning up transport. And hopefully David will share some of that vision here in terms of what we can provide for the ACT, so please welcome Senator Pocock to the stage.
Thanks Richie. And thank you all so much for this opportunity. I’d like to start by acknowledging we are in Ngunnawal country. They’ve been looking after this part of the world for tens of thousands of years, and it really is a privilege to live here.
Thanks for having me here today, and congratulations on such an amazing event. The Electric Vehicles Council, Smart Energy Council, Australian Institute, all the sponsors you’ve seen up here, to bring together such an amazing group of people to talk about something that is finally, I guess, worth talking about with the government of the day. I’d like to acknowledge the support given by Minister Bowen and other members of the Federal Parliament, and also the ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr.
Electrifying our transport sector is obviously a crucial part of moving towards net zero. And for me, really highlights one of the problems I think we’ve had in Australia over the last decade, is a problem of a failure of imagination. Our failure to collectively actually imagine how great our future can be. The kind of future that we can build together. And people in this room have been part of working over that period to actually keep sparking that imagination, to keep that alive, to actually ensure that we are painting a better picture of what we can build together. And I think Australians are starting to see that vision for the future, starting to want it, and clearly starting to work towards it. And it’s no surprise that with petrol prices, at least here in Canberra, around $2.20 for a lot of this year, I think a lot of people are now saying, I want in on that. And I want in on that now. And we’ve heard a lot about the challenges of that today, so I won’t recap everything we’ve heard today.
There’s so many inspiring people working on the solutions we need. And not just working on the solutions, but delivering them. Saying, this is how we do it. We have these solutions. Australians want these solutions. We now need politicians to lead and ensure we have the policy and incentives to actually get this transition going. And my message to the government is simple. Be bold. We need you to be really bold. Fear campaigns of years past have clearly lost their bite. The community backs you. The parliament now backs you. And as an independent, I’ll be advocating for stronger action on all of these things and pushing the government to act with courage and ambition in pursuing long overdue changes. And I know I won’t be alone in that advocacy.
With all the excitement around the incredible opportunities on offer, it’s imperative that the benefits of electrification are shared by all. That is a big challenge that we must ensure is front and center when we’re making these decisions. Low-income households have the most to gain from electrification, but they’re also the most at risk of being left behind. Those households suffer more from the negative impacts of transportation pollution, high traffic volumes, commute times, and they also spend the highest percentage of their income on fuel maintenance repairs. It’s obviously no surprise that the very low proportion of EVs are sold to low-income households.
Private sector innovation has a role to play in reducing the price of EVs to serve this market, but we have to have a proactive approach from the public sector to compliment this and make sure that it happens. And we’ve got the blueprint for that. We now have the cheapest rooftop solar in the world, thanks to government action, to actually incentivize that and to have programs that allow Australians to reap the benefits of it. We have to be putting money into programs like Saul Griffith’s Rewiring Australia, and actually starting to set up pilot projects so that we’re actually showing rather than telling what can be done. And going back to that imagination piece, people that can actually see the transition and be part of it.
We know this is happening, whether we like it or not, our opportunity and our challenge. The thing we have to do is to bring forward that transition. Because we’ve got to remember, amidst the political negotiations and all the talk about floors and not ceilings, the blaming of previous governments, our climate doesn’t care about any of that. And I don’t think future generations will either. Future generations won’t be interested in our list of excuses. What matters and what we’ll be judged on is genuine action. Action that actually matches the scale of the problem we face.
We’ve clearly left behind the window for incremental progress on this transition. We need bold policy and an effort across the country to rise to the challenge. And what an opportunity. This is an incredible opportunity to change the course of our country, and really, the course of human history. And it’s one that many of you have spent years working on. So, thank you. I really thank you for your efforts, for your innovation, for your advocacy. Keep up the pressure on government. I know I will be. We all have a role to play in this. And it’s such an incredible challenge, but what an opportunity and what a thing to be part of. So, thank you so much.
I hope this has been energizing for you. We’ve heard a commitment to some more consultation and then hopefully some solid EV standards. We look forward to really pushing that and ensure that we’re ambitious with them. And we’re not just back at the table when it comes to climate, we’re progressing towards being a leader, which we can and should be. So, thank you very much.