Australia, Industry Issues, Transport Features

Inside the reactions to Australia’s new vehicle efficiency standards

There’s been plenty of opinions voiced from a wide range of organisations on Australia’s new fuel efficiency standards. Here’s a comprehensive guide to what major bodies think of the new standards

Over the past 12 years, there have been calls for new fuel efficiency standards in Australia. Throughout that time, challenges have been present to industry members such as the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA). 

This is all set to change this coming year. Last Sunday, the federal government unveiled a landmark vehicle efficiency standard that’s set to be implemented on new vehicles. With these standards, Australian motorists have been given more opportunity to purchase cars that use less fuel. 

“Because of a lack of action on a fuel efficiency standard, Australian families are paying around $1000 a year more than they need to be for their annual fuel bill,” federal climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen says. 

“With this new standard, the federal government is delivering long-term cost-of-living relief to fix that for new vehicles and put money back in people’s pockets.” 

Since its release, many automotive industry members, such as the MTAA and not-for-profit organisations, have had their say on the new standards.  

MTAA CEO Matt Hobbs says the peak automotive industry association has given the federal government a seven out of 10 on the new standards. Hobbs says that adjustments need to be made in these early stages. 

MTAA CEO Matt Hobbs. Image: Motor Trades Association of Australia

The MTAA CEO says it is vital that the federal government works together with the automotive industry to help move the workforce to a place where it can support the transition to EVs. 

“As stakeholders resolve EV supply and range issues in Australia, the next challenge is to implement the required workforce,” Hobbs says. 

“EVs are cutting-edge technology and need a highly-trained Australian workforce.” 

Infrastructure Victoria says that there are many reasons to welcome the new fuel efficiency standards, particularly for ute owners.

In a post on its LinkedIn page, it says the standards send a signal to manufacturers and consumers that Australia is continuing to transition “away from petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles”.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Joe Rafalowicz says the new standards are a win for thousands of Australians that have been calling for meaningful action to reduce transport emissions. 

“The proposed standard will put Australia on a path to less carbon pollution, more efficient cars and lower-cost transport, making this a historic moment for climate change action,” Rafalowicz says. 

Greenpeace has also urged the government to stay the course and legislate the proposal as soon as possible. Rafalowicz says the new standards are beneficial because they avoid excessive credits and loopholes, such as classifying SUVs as passenger vehicles. 

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has welcomed the government’s plan on closing these loopholes. 

ATA CEO Matthew Munro says despite this positive move, the federal government needs to go further than the road transport advisory group subcommittee that it has introduced. 

“Owner drivers or their representative should hold a majority of positions on any advisory committee looking at orders relating to owner drivers,” Munro says. 

The Electric Vehicle Council is also welcoming of the new standards. In a video posted on its LinkedIn page, the council says the standard ensures that global car manufacturers import “more efficient new cars that provide greater choice” for consumers. 

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) climate and energy program director Kellie Caught says stronger fuel efficiency standards will play a key role in reducing emissions that cause climate change and have health impacts. 

“Australia will finally catch up to overseas countries and no longer be the dumping ground for high polluting, gas guzzling, expensive cars,” Caught says. 

While she welcomes the new standards, Caught says the federal government needs to put more emphasis into making electric and lower emission cars more affordable to people on low incomes. 

Caught says in order to do so, it needs to replace the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) incentive with more equitable mechanisms to increase the uptake of these vehicles. 

Australian Automobile Association (AAA) managing director Michael Bradley also agrees that more insight into this area is needed.  

“The AAA encourages the federal government to release its modelling so the millions of Australians who will be affected by this change can understand exactly what it means for them,” Bradley says. 

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) is also seeking clarity on how the affordability and mobility needs of consumers will be considered throughout the process. 

Along with this, FCAI chief executive Tony Weber says the automotive industry has been calling for these new vehicles standards for many years. 

“There is a great deal of further analysis to do and we look forward to continuing to work with the federal government on the development of a standard that is right for Australia and supports Australian consumers,” Weber says. 

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