The Federal Labor (ALP) opposition says it will contribute to a “truly national” electric vehicle (EV) charging network that would allow people to traverse the nation in their electric car.

    The pledge is part of a wider ALP ‘Driving the Nation’ fund, claimed to be costed at $500 million but needing a little fleshing out, which is focused on driving EV uptake as well as supporting hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for freight.

    This $500 million pledge, if delivered upon following a hypothetical Labor election win, would be double the incumbent Federal government’s $250 million Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy announced last year, detailed here.

    “After scoffing at the promise of EVs, the Liberals have belatedly announced a $250 million Future Fuels Fund – but only delivered 10 per cent of that figure. Labor will not only deliver the budgeted amount but will double the Commonwealth’s investment to $500 million and establish a new Driving the Nation Fund,” said an ALP press release.

    If elected to power in this month’s election, the ALP says it will co-fund a network with charging stations at “an average interval of 150km on major roads”.

    This aspect of Labor’s wider plan is said to involve $39.3 million in federal taxpayer money, matched by the NRMA, and will furthermore “involve partnerships with State, Territory and local Governments, communities, industry and other state motoring clubs”.

    Once finished, the ALP says its promised charging network would, for example, allow EV drivers to hypothetically go from: Adelaide to Perth across the Nullarbor; Darwin to Broome and on to Perth; Broken Hill to Adelaide; Port Augusta to Darwin; and Brisbane to Mt Isa and on to Tennant Creek.

    Labor last December pledged to exempt certain EVs from import tariffs and the Fringe Benefits Tax, “boosting sales volumes and expanding the used car market”, and has re-committed to this promise.

    Beyond this, Federal Labor says it will work with the States and Territories to create “a national Hydrogen Highways refuelling network”, with an investment of “up to $80 million” to deliver up to 16 stations on Australia’s busiest freight routes.

    “[PM] Scott Morrison has a short-term measure to get him past the election – a temporary change to the fuel excise that ends after Australians vote,” the ALP contended.

    “But he has no plan for a future where Australian vehicles are powered by cheaper, cleaner energy – and where families and businesses are no longer exposed to global oil markets.

    “Labor knows that over time, electric and hydrogen vehicles can reduce running costs as well as emissions, and end Australia’s reliance on foreign oil.”

    Opposition leader and the man who wants to be Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said: “Only a Labor Government I lead will deliver a truly national EV Charging Network and roll out Hydrogen Highways across the country. This will be the key to Driving the Nation.”

    Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, added: “An Albanese Labor Government will end the chaos and restore leadership on energy and climate – including by working with the States to expand Hydrogen Highways nationally.

    “Labor will continue to deliver the Driving the Nation Fund through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and will coordinate public investment to ensure that it does not duplicate or crowd out private efforts.”

    The Electric Vehicle Council naturally welcomed Labor’s commitment, with chief executive Behyad Jafari saying the proposed investment would send a signal to consumers and the EV industry.

    “Under Labor’s commitment you could be certain that no matter where you live or where you’re going you could get there in an EV,” Mr Jafari said.

    “We know range anxiety remains a major impediment to Australians purchasing EVs. Although much of this anxiety is misplaced, building a modern network of charging infrastructure would send a strong signal that there’s nothing to fear.

    “City drivers are flocking to EVs because the benefits are so clear and obvious. For regional drivers hesitancy is stronger, but that’s why it’s excellent to see the NRMA committing to partnering with the federal government to roll out regional charging infrastructure and make EVs an option for all Australians.

    “Despite some very unfortunate fear mongering and a general lack of ambition at the federal level in recent years, Australians are now wide awake to the myriad benefits of EVs.

    “If they can see the Australian Government is in behind this shift we will see a rapid acceleration of progress.

    “The EVC congratulates the alternate government on this important commitment to Australia’s transport future.”

    MORE: Government to fund electric car infrastructure
    MORE: What electric vehicle buyer incentives are offered around Australia?

    MORE: Australia-wide EV policy needed to avoid ‘chaos’, says FCAI
    MORE: Australia needs national EV policies, not piecemeal state ones

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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