Victoria offers a modest rebate of $100 on registration for electric vehicles and duty rebates for expensive vehicles but Mr Pallas said he thought “there is more that the state can do in this respect”.
One source familiar with the crossbench negotiations said they expected the government would come to offer monetary incentives, possibly in the thousands of dollars, in the form of a rebate for car buyers or a reduction in stamp duties.
Of 10 crossbenchers, only Reason Party MP Fiona Patten has voiced her support for the bill in its current form, meaning the government must sway two more crossbench MPs. She told The Age she agreed with Mr Pallas that it was necessary to install a user-pays system from an early stage.
Mr Meddick said he appreciated an electric vehicles tax would be a revenue stream for the maintenance of roads but in isolation it “sends exactly the wrong message that we want to punish people moving to electric vehicles”.
A poll of 2100 by consultancy Redbridge, commissioned by industry association the Electric Vehicle Council, showed more than 70 per cent of Labor and Greens voters in the seats of Richmond and Albert Park would be more likely to support the Andrews government if it made EVs cheaper through incentives.
Greens MP and transport spokesman Sam Hibbins was incensed by the tax on Wednesday, slamming it as “outrageous” and a “tax on clean air”.
“We’re in a climate crisis and transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Victoria,” he said. “We should be helping people make the switch to EVs by making them more affordable instead of putting up roadblocks.”
Sustainable Australia MP Clifford Hayes said he was similarly unconvinced by the timing of the tax.
“It’s just putting an impediment on an industry that is already struggling in Australia,” he said.
Think tank Infrastructure Partnerships Australia welcomed the “modest” tax and said it “will not retard uptake of electric vehicles, which will still be cheaper to own and run than a petrol or diesel option”.
“This legislation can be combined with future incentives to make it easier for Victorians to buy an electric vehicle, meaning we can have our cake and eat it too,” said chief executive Adrian Dwyer.
Start your day informed
Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
Michael is a state political reporter for The Age.