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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3400 ..

Together with the actions the Chief Minister and Minister Rattenbury have highlighted today being delivered across government, the ACT’s transport transition plans will play a central role in reducing harmful emissions and transitioning this city to a net zero emissions future.

But as Ms Clay’s motion rightly points out, the policy levers that will make a difference here aren’t all within the ACT’s control. In transport, our national policy settings governing vehicle emissions are also a key piece of the puzzle.

Commonwealth Government policy currently only requires vehicles imported into Australia to meet Euro 5 or equivalent standard for noxious emissions and most importantly Australia has no specific standards on CO2 emissions. This is despite more stringent Euro 6 (or equivalent) emissions and CO2 standards having been adopted in the US, Canada, the EU, United Kingdom, Japan, China, Korea and India. These countries account for over 80 per cent of global new vehicle sales, and supply the majority of passenger vehicles sold in Australia.

A Regulatory Impact Statement prepared last year by the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure has highlighted that introducing the Euro 6 standard in Australia would deliver benefits of $6.4 billion in avoided health costs across a 23-year period. It would also help to significantly reduce Australia’s total harmful emissions from transport over time and expand the range of vehicles available for consumers to choose from.

Australian consumers had access to 31 electric vehicle models in 2020, while consumers in the UK had access to 130 electric vehicle models. Feedback from peak bodies such as the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries indicates that the lack of more stringent emissions standards in Australia is a key driver of decision-making by vehicle manufacturers about whether to import affordable, modern vehicle models here. There is strong evidence that other markets are being prioritised.

Until these standards change, Australia will experience higher vehicle operating costs, poorer health outcomes and private vehicle transport will continue to drive our emissions up.

Requiring all new vehicles sold in Australia to meet Euro 6 emissions standards and an appropriate equivalent CO2 standard is a tangible, practical action the Commonwealth Government could take right now, to significantly reduce Australia’s emissions from transport and deliver cleaner air across Australia’s cities. We had hoped that the Prime Minister might have made it part of his package to present to the COP26 summit in Glasgow, given it is such low-hanging fruit for reform.

To date the Federal Government has refused to implement new vehicle standards saying this is about choice.

The Federal Government’s refusal to introduce new vehicle emissions standards is severely limiting consumer choice to be able to buy affordable emissions vehicles. Manufacturers simply won’t bring their latest technology here.

Paying more to drive a limited range of outdated models that pollute our air is no choice at all for Australian motorists.

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