Leading article Australia

Labor’s electric road to nowhere

6 April 2019

9:00 AM

6 April 2019

9:00 AM

It’s like déjà vu all over again. The economy, although slowing, is growing at a respectable 2.3 per cent. Unemployment sits at 5 per cent and a Liberal treasurer hands down a budget which, through a mix of pain and restraint, delivers a surplus, while Labor measures up the solar panels for the roof of the Lodge.

With the government perennially behind in the polls, the pundits have all but called this an unlosable election for Labor. Yet Opposition leader Bill Shorten looks increasingly like former Liberal leader John Hewson.  He fought the 1993 election promising complex radical reform and although voters were furious with Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating who had inflicted on them interest rates of almost 20 per cent and ‘the recession we had to have’, they rejected an Opposition leader promising new taxes he himself couldn’t explain.

Having committed to an absurd emissions reduction target because it was in a virtue-signalling auction with the Greens, Labor has promised to impose new vehicle emissions standards that only an electric car or a hybrid could meet and will levy hefty new taxes on petrol and diesel cars to bludgeon drivers into trading in their Toyota Hi-Lux for a Tesla. No tradie will jump for joy at that prospect.

Labor’s wants 50 per cent of new car sales to be electric by 2030. Only Norway has achieved that by exempting electric vehicles from its exorbitant purchase tax, its 25 per cent VAT, its annual road tax, public parking fees and tolls and allowing them use of bus lanes. So, at a huge cost to drivers and taxpayers, the Nissan Leaf is Norway’s top-selling car.

Now imagine Labor’s nutty Norwegian nirvana transplanted down under.  The Nissan Leaf is three times the price of a comparable petrol car in Australia — so the price of the average car would have to treble —it has a range of 270 km and takes up to 8 hours to charge, if you can find anywhere to charge it. A nine-hour drive from Sydney to Melbourne would need an extra sixteen hours charging time, to say nothing of queueing for the plug. And all this pain would be for no gain. In Norway electricity is cheap and has almost zero emissions because it comes from hydro. Under Labor, power prices will go up another 90 per cent and the emissions from the grid will still be greater than from the most fuel-efficient diesel and petrol vehicles. (Also see Mark Lawson’s ‘Electric fantasies’ in this issue.)

But that’s not the end of Labor’s climate madness. It has committed to ensuring that Queensland-style land-clearing laws are applied across the country. This would prevent farmers from clearing regrowth vegetation on their own land, without any compensation. It’s a declaration of war on the bush.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is a lucky man. The Coalition’s biggest obstacle to election victory was the rage in regional Australia that has driven 18 per cent of voters to park the vote with populist parties of the right and left.

Mr Morrison jumping on a bandwagon driven by the ABC, Al Jazeera, Labor and the Greens by branding One Nation as abhorrent for seeking foreign donations to weaken Australia’s gun laws was not politically astute. Al Jazeera, funded by Qatar, aka Club Med for Terrorists, is far more abhorrent than Pauline Hanson. And Labor and the Greens are only too happy to be backed by GetUp! which far more effectively touts for foreign donations to destroy Australia’s economy.

Now Mr Morrison can ride in on the colt from old Regret to save bush battlers from Labor stealing their land and locking it up in bushfire-prone regrowth.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down a budget that paints the government as a picture of fiscal rectitude and stability compared to Labor’s wild-eyed zealots. Instead of shoe-horning Australians out of their utes, Mr Morrison has extended the instant asset write-off so they can go buy another one. He will use the $125 billion National Infrastructure Plan to build ‘congestion-busting’ roads to drive them on and dams for which the bush is thirsting. Mr Frydenberg promised to roll out ‘cranes, hard hats and heavy machinery’ to every dusty school and hospital in the outback, as well as an actual fast train, instead of just a feasibility study. And all without raising taxes.

Mr Morrison has framed the election as a contest between an economically-responsible government building much-needed infrastructure in the city and bush versus an opposition threatening open borders, billions in new taxes and unhinged, incomprehensible climate cult economics.

Like Mr Hewson, who famously lost an ‘unlosable’ election when he couldn’t explain how much GST there’d be on a birthday cake, explaining why he’s building charging stations across the Nullarbor may just put Mr Shorten on the road to nowhere, too.

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