Australia, Transport News

High Court throws out Victorian electric vehicle tax

The two Victorian EV drivers have spoken out after the High Court made its judgment regarding the Victorian electric vehicle road user charge

The Victorian electric vehicle driver road user charge issue has come to an end as the High Court of Australia yesterday ruled to dismiss the tax.

Two Victorian electric vehicle drivers, Chris Vanderstock and Kathleen Davies, have welcomed the landmark judgment in the High Court which found that Victoria’s electric vehicle tax is unconstitutional.

Vanderstock and Davies brought the constitutional challenge in September 2021, arguing that the State of Victoria lacks the constitutional power to levy a road user charge on electric vehicle drivers.

The Victorian government introduced the tax in July 2021. Electric vehicle owners pay between 2.3 cents and 2.8 cents for every kilometre they drive in and outside Victoria.

The EV tax has been described as the “worst electric vehicle policy in the world” by some, and the Victorian Ombudsman has recently found that the “legislation is being administered unfairly”.

“This is a landmark constitutional decision,” Equity Generation Lawyers senior associate David Hertzberg, who represented the drivers in court, says.

“The judgment means that Victoria’s electric vehicle tax is invalid. It also sets a precedent which will likely prevent other states from implementing similar legislation.

Davies says she is thrilled by the judgment.

“Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world on electric vehicle uptake. Now is not the time to be taxing electric vehicles – it’s the time to be doing everything we can to encourage people to make the switch to cleaner cars,” Davies says.

“The Victorian government has been moving in the wrong direction – it went out alone in taxing electric vehicles, and recently it scrapped its electric vehicle subsidy.

“We hope that the decision paves the way for the federal government to make coherent national policy which accelerates the transition to electric vehicles.”

Vanderstock says it’s a great outcome not only for Victorian electric vehicle drivers, but for all Australians.

“Electric vehicles are fun to drive, but they also help decrease carbon emissions, reduce pollution, and improve our health,” Vanderstock says.

“We believe that Victoria’s electric vehicle tax discouraged people from buying EVs, and punished existing EV owners who are trying to do the right thing. It was an ad hoc, piecemeal policy which undermined our collective efforts to reduce emissions from transport.

“We hope that the decision is a step in the right direction towards a cleaner, lower emissions future.”

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