Two electric car drivers have launched a High Court challenge to Victoria’s controversial, some say ‘Crazy’ — electric vehicle tax.
They will argue that the State of Victoria lacks the constitutional power to levy a road user charge on electric vehicle drivers.
The case was filed today on behalf of the drivers by Equity Generation Lawyers.
In July 2021, the Victorian Government introduced a new tax which charges electric vehicle drivers between 2 cents and 2.5 cents for every kilometre they drive.
The Electric Vehicle Council is urging the Victorian Government to scrap its “destructive” electric vehicle tax, in the wake of the High Court challenge.
Chief executive Behyad Jafari said he was deeply sympathetic to the plaintiffs in the case.
“I’m not surprised to hear there are grounds for a legal challenge, this plan was developed in secret without consultation with experts and has been rejected as premature and destructive by every other government in Australia,” he said.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) slammed the decision to introduce the tax in May this year.
FCAI boss Tony Weber said road user charging decisions should not be based around specific technologies and particularly those that are in their relative infancy in the Australian market.
“An efficient road user charging scheme can address all vehicle users regardless of the type of vehicle they drive, how often it is driven and the purpose of the travel,” he said.
“The FCAI will be keen to work with the Victorian and other governments to explore the benefits to the broad-based tax and vehicle charging reform.”
Fast forward and one of the drivers bringing the case, Melbourne father and nurse manager Chris Vanderstock, who uses his car for his daily work commute, said he had additional concerns to the constitutional validity of the laws.
“Instead of taxing clean technologies, the Victorian Government should be concentrating on getting dirty cars off the road,” he said.
“Electric vehicles are cleaner and improve health and climate outcomes for everybody.
“Why is the Victorian Government taxing electric vehicles when they have a demonstrable health benefit?”.
Melbourne mother and engineering consultant Kathleen Davies, the second electric vehicle driver mounting the challenge, said she bought her first electric vehicle in 2012 to help reduce her family’s environmental impact.
“Not only are electric vehicles better for the environment, they are also cheaper to run,” Ms Davies said.
“Electric vehicles are becoming more affordable every year but this tax is a backward step for people wanting to transition to a cleaner and more economical car.
“Victoria’s electric vehicle tax is fundamentally flawed and impractical. It punishes electric vehicle drivers and discourages the urgent need to decarbonise.”
Legal representative for the drivers, Jack McLean, said his clients would argue that the State of Victoria lacked the constitutional power to levy the tax.
“In addition to the validity of the tax, our clients are concerned it’s also bad public policy,” he said.
“It discourages everyday Australians from switching to lower emission vehicles, prolonging our dependence on polluting oil.
“It’s bad for Victorians, it’s bad for the climate and we will argue that it is unconstitutional”.
Those interested in supporting the challenge can contribute to the crowdfunding campaign here.
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