Government policies killing off green innovation in Australia

The carbon tax could “signal the end of the road for motoring’s green revolution,” says Acting Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Warren Truss, after visiting GM Holden’s testing labs in Port Melbourne yesterday.

“A $23 per tonne carbon tax will cost car manufacturers in Australia $30 million,” said Truss. 

“Of course, that’s just for starters, the carbon price ramps up each year to increasingly put the brakes on car manufacturing in this country.”

Holden reportedly invests $200 million each year in research and development. In 2006, the automotive manufacturer launched a plan to invest in greener cars, such as the VE Commodore (which can run on 85% ethanol), and cut emissions by 14%.

According to Truss, “short sighted policies” like the carbon tax, and the government’s decision to axe the $1.3 billion Green Car Innovation Fund in favour if flood disaster relief, will put these efforts on hold. Truss says these policies will eventually kill off innovation.

“Imported cars will not come with the added baggage of the carbon tax built into their price tag. This will have the bizarre affect of curbing demand for Australian-made greener cars while making cheaper imports, with their higher CO2 emissions from shipping to Australia, more attractive,” he said, after visiting GM Holden’s testing labs yesterday.

“The absurd counter-productive policy mess doesn’t stop there. Labor has abolished its own Green Car Innovation Fund, which saw car companies kick in $3 for every $1 from taxpayers to drive local development and production of greener more fuel efficient cars.

“With $800 million left in the Fund, Labor reneged on its commitment and pulled out of the industry partnership in February this year. Adding insult to injury, the government didn’t bother to notify the car makers – the first they heard of it was via media reports.

“Exposing Labor’s ingrained deceit, this decision came after the Federal Government insisted in 2008, that the car companies lay out their detailed business plans to the government to get the scheme up.

“Completing the triple policy threat, Labor’s decision to whack a tax on LPG is not only killing off consumer uptake of this cleaner, environmentally-friendly fuel, but has left car makers out of pocket, too.

“Car makers were led up the garden path by Labor’s AA2020 Vision, which declared the government’s unwavering commitment to alternative fuels. Armed with this, Holden and others, in good faith, began development of dedicated LPG vehicles.

“With the Gillard government blithely walking away from that commitment, car makers are understandably nervous about the viability of investing in alternative fuel vehicles.

“Instead of consistent, coherent market signals, the government has chopped and changed so often businesses don’t know whether they are Arthur or Martha. That’s no way to do business or run a country.”