Chris Bowen fails to answer Leigh Sales' question over affordable electric vehicles after Labor climate policy revealed

Labor’s climate change policy has come under fire after a key frontbencher failed to answer a simple question about when Australians would be able to buy an affordable electric vehicle.

Last Friday, the Opposition unveiled a $600m plan to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 – a pledge the party promises will create 600,000 jobs and cut household power bills by $275 a year by 2025.

Electric vehicles have been a key feature of Labor’s climate policy, with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese promising tax cuts and incentives.

Buyers would be exempt from paying the five per cent import tariff on imported electric vehicle, and the 47 per cent fringe benefits tax for vehicles provided through work for private use.

But when climate change spokesman Chris Bowen was asked repeatedly when Australians could expect to buy an electric vehicle of a similar size to the Hyundai i30 – which currently cost about $25,000 new – for a similar price he couldn’t answer.

Leigh Sales asked the question five times on ABC’s 7.30 but he failed to provide a goal date, each time giving a roundabout answer full of buzzwords and policy details.

Chris Bowen fails to answer Leigh Sales’ question over affordable electric vehicles after Labor climate policy revealed

Camera IconOpposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Climate Change and Energy spokesman Chris Bowen last week unveiled Labor’s plan to cut emissions and get to net zero by 2050. NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

“Well, our policy is the electric vehicle tax cut, the main lever that we’re pushing,” he said.

“We have a couple of electric vehicle policies including electrifying the Commonwealth fleet which is important because that will then flow down through to the second-hand sales about three years later, which is very important.

“So we would have 75 per cent of our Commonwealth vehicles … as electric by 2025 …”

Sales interrupted in an attempt to get a straight answer, saying “sorry to cut you off, just for a consumer …”

Her question prompted Mr Bowen to say: “No, fair call. We would cut the taxes on electric vehicles and for businesses we would abolish the fringe benefits tax. Now, why is that important …”

He was cut short again by the presenter, who asked Mr Bowen to talk to the average person.

Chris Bowen fails to answer Leigh Sales’ question over affordable electric vehicles after Labor climate policy revealed

Camera Icon7.30 presenter Leigh Sales failed to get a straight answer out of Chris Bowen despite repeated questioning. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia

“I just want to know when can I buy an electric car for 25,000 bucks,” Sales asked.

Mr Bowen tried to respond once again, saying that Labor’s tax cut would take “roughly” $2000 off the cost by the tariff reduction.

“And for a business, $9000 off … And a business is just as important, around 50 per cent of car sales are fleet, then flows through again to the second-hand market, so you get more affordable second-hand electric vehicles,” he said.

Sales responded saying a Tesla Model 3, which costs $70,000, would not be an affordable model for the average punter.

Mr Bowen once again cited Labor’s tax cuts.

Chris Bowen fails to answer Leigh Sales’ question over affordable electric vehicles after Labor climate policy revealed

Camera IconAnthony Albanese last week announced Labor’s plan to reduce taxes and offer incentives for Australians to purchase electric vehicles. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“We see other countries with more affordable EVs available and we want to make those EVs more affordable in Australia by cutting the taxes,” he said.

“And then you put on top of that some of the state rebates … Put that together … you do get electric vehicles more affordable.”

Sales tried once again to ask when Australians could expect to purchase an affordable electric vehicle.

“But how soon?” she asked.

“Because people have to decide now – ‘should I get a new car next year? Should I wait five years? When should I get an electric vehicle’.”

For a final time, Mr Bowen failed to give Sales a date.

“Our tax cut would apply from the first of July when we come to office. The state rebates are already there, they’ll start working,” he said.

“We have a very low electric vehicle sales rate in Australia. The lowest in the world, that needs to turn around.

“Australians have got to have more choice. We want to give Australians that choice by making the electric vehicles more affordable.”

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