Flat White

Electric vehicles are bad for our economic climate

7 August 2021

4:14 PM

7 August 2021

4:14 PM

Lockdowns and regulations are plaguing Australians and putting a damper on our moods. Many are bearing the brunt of unemployment—or praying they don’t soon. 

A mass outbreak of the Delta variant sent the New South Wales government into a state of panic and commanded a series of stringent regulations on Australians. Of course, it prompted NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to call the variant a “game-changer,” urging another lockdown. This lockdown, however, kept getting extended, putting many local businesses in jeopardy. This week marks the third extension so far.   

The state government faced growing resentment from the masses as they marched down the streets of Sydney protesting the bottomless pit of lockdowns and restrictions. It makes sense—after all, what many thought was a lockdown giving the government time to come up with a constructive plan turned out to be a mere sugar packet on an uneven table.  

Our economy is estimated to take a $7 billion hit and go into recession again because of the lockdowns. More importantly, Australians are losing their jobs. The June lockdown in Victoria caused the retail sector to take a 3.5 per cent dip and New South Wales is not far behind with a 2 per cent drop in late June. It is only a matter of time before that number goes up and even more Australians fail to bring home the bacon.  

The protest may have been poorly executed as they run the risk of transmitting the disease to the vulnerable, but it can only be interpreted as an act of desperation. The protest is merely a reflection of the government’s policies. Perhaps if the government had not been complacent about COVID-19 cases and had increased vaccine rollout rates, we wouldn’t have gotten into this sticky situation. The government needs to take this protest seriously and come up with an actual plan to reverse the damages.   

‘Zero-case’ is a requirement that will only prolong lockdowns and suffering—and it might well be impossible to achieve. Extending the lockdown and enforcing stringent restrictions that even the Premier cannot abide by is not sustainable and only punishes the innocent. It’s high time we abandon this futile project and focus on getting our lives back on track.  

The pandemic has caused a massive disturbance to our lives and we’re all invested in trying to keep our livelihoods amidst the coronavirus conundrum. Nobody has the time or energy to think about the net zero goals once babbled on about. Right?  

Well, the Grattan Institute recently published a report advocating for electric vehicles and the net zero emissions target. This report is just one of many reports the think tank will be publishing, advocating for Australian politicians and Australians to start implementing changes in energy and climate policies.  

This report came out at an inopportune timing, however, contrary to section 1 of the report titled “The time is right for practical climate action”.  

The Grattan Institute is recommending that we replace our diesel-fuelled vehicles in favour of “zero-emission” vehicles ― electric vehicles. These vehicles make up only 0.2 per cent of the total vehicle fleet in Australia because of their sky-high price tag. Electric vehicles are but a plaything for the rich and is the least of our concerns in this economic climate.  

The think tank believes now is the right time to bring out expensive policies but the 10,000 Australians on the waiting list for free food and 20,000 international students relying on casual work and no welfare payments beg to differ.  

The report recommended tax exemptions for electric vehicles and called for a mandatory national fleet emissions standard. These policies may be effective in reducing carbon emission and make financial sense to individuals with lower income, but they overlook the longer-term economic setbacks. 

Tax-exempted electric vehicles may only encourage Australians to buy them for tax-minimising purposes, purchases that may not make economic sense otherwise. This creates an economic distortion that may corrode our already unstable economic foundation and as a result, lower our quality of life.  

The mandatory fleet emissions standard is also a bad idea because no amount of tax exemptions will reduce the cost of renewable energy like solar and wind.   

Australia’s electricity usage from renewables increased from 19 per cent in 2018 to 21 per cent in 2019, but this is not a product of the free market. The government’s anti-market policies paved the way for renewable energy at the expense of our livelihoods.  

Australians are fighting for survival because of bad policies, it’s hardly the time to introduce more of them. The lockdowns and stimulus policies have already wreaked havoc on our economy, anti-market policies will only dig a deeper grave for Australians.  

We need to focus on rebuilding our economy and issues such as climate change will only divert our attention from what is most important right now.  

Our government needs to increase the vaccination rollout rate right now, so as to reduce infection numbers and minimise the effects of COVID-19 symptoms. We need to work with what we have and turn this outbreak into an endemic norm. Only then can we return to normalcy as we know it to be.  

Xin Yuan Quek is the Policy Researcher for the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. She is a contributor at Young Voices. Find her on Twitter @xinyuanquek 

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