Why ACCC says electric cars are ‘unfair’
WEALTHY motorists who can afford flash electric cars are unfairly using roads for free at the expense of poorer drivers, consumer tsar Rod Sims said yesterday.
Mr Sims, who chairs the Federal Government's Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said it was unfair that electric car owners were exempt from the 41 cent per litre fuel tax, which pays for roads.
He called on the government to abolish the fuel excise and replace it with a hi-tech levy based on the distance driven.
"Whenever you fill up your car, 41 cents a litre is going (in taxes) to pay for your road use,'' Mr Sims told The Courier-Mail yesterday.
"People who buy electric cars are travelling on roads without cost, and that's really not fair.
"Why should they have an advantage over people driving petrol cars?''
Mr Sims said it was also unfair that motorists who could afford new fuel-efficient cars were paying less fuel tax than those with old-model gas-guzzlers.
"The older cars are less fuel efficient, so they pay more to use the roads,'' he said. "How's that fair?''
Mr Sims said the Federal Government should find a different way of charging for road use, by using tracking technology to charge motorists for the distance driven, or the time spent driving.
"You could lower or remove the petrol excise and charge motorists when they use a road, or where they use it,'' he said.
"Technology can track where and when you're going.''
The Federal Government will pocket $13.4 billion in fuel excise this financial year, but spend just $6.6 billion on roads and rail.
The Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) yesterday said Queensland would receive $1.78 billion in road funding this financial year - slightly more than what motorists will contribute in fuel excise.
RACQ head of public policy Rebecca Michael said Australia needs a "fairer and more sustainable'' way of paying for roads.
"With the rise of fuel efficient and ultra-low emission vehicles, this revenue stream is under threat and likely to result in less funding for road and rail into the future,'' she said yesterday.
"The current system is unfair as those with ultra-low emission vehicles are not contributing to the upkeep of the road network.
"We need road user charging reform to ensure everyone is paying their fair share.''
Mr Sims said the fuel excise - which is now paid into Treasury coffers for spending across all areas of government - should be set aside and spent only on roads.
All motorists, including electric vehicle owners, also contribute to road funding by paying an annual registration fee to the State Government.