ACT Working Group on EV Policy and Advocacy
FINAL CONVENOR'S REPORT, JANUARY 2020
The ACT Branch of AEVA established a Working Group on EV Policy and Advocacy in September 2018. The Terms of Reference of the Working Group are given in Appendix 1.
Prior to the formal establishment of the Working Group, its members worked together in August 2018 on a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Electric Vehicles. That submission is available here (Submission 6).
The Senate Inquiry report was released in January 2019, and was generally viewed as disappointing. It supported the concept of co-ordinated procurement of EVs for Commonwealth, state and local government car fleets. It recommended that there be a national plan for charging infrastructure. It endorsed the introduction of the 105g/km fuel efficiency standard. It advocated a national 10-year EV manufacturing roadmap. But the report declined to recommend EV purchase subsidies, or deadlines for the phase-out of new internal combustion vehicles. It endorsed the principle of targets for EV sales, but declined to set any actual targets. It declined to endorse any taxation measures, such as changes to the Luxury Car tax to give more advantage to EVs over other vehicles.
Federal election aftermath
During the campaign for the May Federal election, the Coalition parties undertook to develop an EV policy by mid-2020. After the election, the Working Group prepared a letter which was sent from the Acting AEVA National President to the Deputy Prime Minister (Michael McCormack) in his capacity as Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, and Chair of the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions (MFVE). The letter sought clarification on matters such as ministerial responsibilities, the ongoing existence and composition of the MFVE, the status of the draft Regulation Impact Statement on Improving the Efficiency of New Light Vehicles (download PDF), and whether the Government intends to issue a response to the Senate Inquiry. No reply was received.
Meetings with ACT Government officials
The Working Group gave priority to liaising with officials concerning the ACT Government's Action Plan for transition to zero emission vehicles. Two meetings were held with officers of the ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) to discuss progress with this Action Plan.
The Working Group identified a range of potential issues for discussion, including:
- EV registration and stamp duty issues;
- EV targets for the ACT;
- strategies to raise public awareness, such as an EV Expo;
- how to address the needs of EV owners in existing apartment buildings;
- location of charging infrastructure on the Federal, Hume, Kings and Monaro Highways;
- implementation of proposed actions concerning transit lanes, special numberplates, and enforcement of preferred parking spaces for vehicle charging; and
- encouragement of e-bikes.
EV charging facilities in new apartment buildings
A major discussion item was the proposal in the Action Plan to “Amend the Parking and Vehicle Access General Code [within the Territory Plan] to require all new multi-unit and mixed-use developments to install vehicle charging Infrastructure”.
It was clear then (and still is) that little progress has been made in changing this code, most likely because of concerns within some branches of the Government about costs to developers.
Nevertheless, in late 2018 the Working Group was asked by the officials to set out minimum and desirable requirements for EV owners living in apartments. The Group endorsed this proposal drafted by one of its members (Peter Campbell). This proposal recommended that residents of every unit should have access to a charging outlet where they routinely park. Provision of one or a few charging bays should not be accepted as sufficient. Individual charging outlets should ideally be connected to the meters of individual units and, only if that were impractical, separately metered behind the owners’ corporation’s meter.
The proposal asserted that slow charging via ordinary power points is quite sufficient and might be necessary to contain costs associated with electrical supplies to the building. Nonetheless, electrical circuits should be capable of delivering 32A, even if limited initially to 10A or 15A, as future proofing in anticipation of smart charging arrangements that might be retrofitted. The Working Group tabled estimates suggesting that the costs associated with the additional cabling would be of the order of mid-hundreds to around a thousand dollars per apartment unit depending on the layout of the building.
At a meeting in early 2019 the officials welcomed the proposal, and undertook to use it as the basis for an information document for developers. However, by early 2020 there was no indication that any changes to the Territory Plan were imminent.
The Working Group also took up a suggestion that the proposal be used as the basis of a “practice note” for owners’ corporations.
Existing apartment buildings
The Working Group had an interest in finding solutions for residents of existing apartments, as well as newly constructed ones. It drew the attention of the officials to the City of Sydney report Electric vehicle recharging in residential strata buildings (also known as the Wattblock report) and asked the ACT Government to examine this report.
Stamp duty and registration concessions
While noting the stamp duty and registration concessions offered by the ACT Government for low emission vehicles, the Working Group drew attention to the fact that the extra weight of the batteries causes EVs to move into higher registration tiers, cancelling out the registration discount. It also questioned why used EVs could not also qualify for the stamp duty waiver, if the purpose is to encourage the uptake of EVs. These concerns were noted by the officials but by early 2020 there was no indications of any changes to the concessions.
Special number plates
The Working Group wrote to Shane Rattenbury, in his capacity as Minister for Road Safety, recommending that the ACT adopt the national approach to EV number plates being put in place by the National Transport Commission. This would assist first responders as well as facilitating the enforcement of regulations concerning use of transit lanes and EV parking spaces. The Minister replied, advising that regulations to this effect were implemented in December 2018, but that number plate labels are not yet available. He also advised that ACT Police will be able to enforce regulations on use of transit lanes and EV parking spaces by using the motor registry database which includes data on vehicle type.
ACT Transport Strategy
Early in 2019 the ACT Government released a draft updated Transport Strategy, entitled Moving Canberra, 2019-2045. The draft Strategy included the goal of expanding expansion EV use, but gave more weight to modal shift (ie towards active travel and public transport, and away from private car use). Some members of the Working Group submitted their own comments on the draft ACT Strategy.
Community Zero Emissions Grant application
The Working Group submitted an application, edited by Denby Angus, for a grant of $15,000 under the ACT Community Zero-Emissions Grants Program. The grant was intended to be used to support four EV advocacy events during 2019/20. We were advised in October 2019 that our application was unsuccessful.
The Working Group discussed a paper by Pete Gorton concerning guidelines for the use of e-scooters in Canberra. The aim was to gain legislative approval for e-scooters to operate on Canberra’s bike paths and footpaths. The paper was submitted in June 2019 to an ACT Government consultation seeking the views of the ACT community on what restrictions should be placed on e-scooter use. In December 2019 Minister Rattenbury announced that e-scooter use in the ACT would be legal, subject to certain conditions.
In 2018 the Working Group developed a promotional leaflet setting out the benefits of EVs and providing information on available models. This leaflet was distributed at the first Southfest event in November 2018, and was updated for the ACT Renewables Showcase in July 2019 and the second Southfest event in November 2019.
Disbandment of the Working Group
Most of the achievements of the Working Group occurred during its initial year of operation. Given the lack of ongoing dialogue with the Federal and (to a lesser extent) the ACT Government about the policy issues raised, Canberra EV decided at its meeting in January 2020 to disband the Working Group as a continuing body. It appointed Peter Campbell as a Policy Co-ordinator, who could call meetings as required in response to any policy developments.
Convenor of the Working Group, September 2018 to January 2020.
TERMS OF REFERENCE
 To discuss and develop proposals for government policies and actions (at the national and ACT levels) to enhance the take-up of EVs
 To discuss and develop proposals and strategies to advocate such actions
 To report any such proposals to the monthly meeting of Canberra EV, where they might be discussed, amended where agreed, and endorsed
 To maintain contact with the AEVA National Committee to ensure that any proposals for national policies and advocacy actions are aligned with National Committee thinking
 To create and maintain a communication channel to relevant federal ministers and officials, on behalf of the AEVA National Committee
 To create and maintain a communication channel to relevant ACT ministers and officials, with a view to providing them with advice and suggestions
 To monitor the progress of ACT Government actions aimed at stimulating the uptake of EVs
 To create and maintain contact with industry stakeholders and other local government bodies.