Bendigo Sustainability Group (BSG) has welcomed federal Labor's commitment to investing in the nation's electric vehicle (EV) charging network, which would help every Australian embrace the benefits of electric vehicles.
At its election launch on Sunday, Labor committed to encouraging cheaper, cleaner transport by establishing a new Driving the Nation Fund, and by building a National Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Network.
Labor's investment in the EV Charging Network, with charging stations at an average interval of 150km on major roads, would be matched by the NRMA, and involve partnerships with state, territory and local governments.
Labor Leader Anthony Albanese said a Labor government would close the gaps in Australia's electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
"That means you'll be able to drive an electric vehicle across the country - Adelaide to Perth, Brisbane to Mount Isa," he said.
"Imagine a future where you don't have to worry about petrol bills. We can get there, but we need government to build the foundation for it."
Just under $40 million will be put aside for the build to be matched by the NRMA.
Up to $80 million will also be spent on a national hydrogen highway refuelling network, building 16 stations on Australia's busiest freight routes.
The government's $250 million Future Fuels Fund will be doubled and a Driving the Nation Fund will be created to allow the Commonwealth to co-invest in additional EV chargers, as well as hydrogen and biofuels refuelling infrastructure.
Exempting some electric vehicles from import tariffs and fringe benefits tax will also ease the take up cost, Mr Albanese says.
"We'll make it easier and cheaper for your next car to be electric," he said.
BSG president Colin Lambie said his group supported the transition to non fossil fuel transport and the roll-out of charging stations was an important component to making that happen.
There are several EV charging stations already located in Bendigo. Only last year, City of Greater Bendigo Council installed two charging stations at the Queen Elizabeth Oval car park.
They have proven popular with figures revealing that between November 11, 2021, to February 22, 2022, there had been 219 electric vehicle recharge sessions at the stations from 111 car owners, for an average of 35 minutes recharging time.
It has provided 21,000 kilometres in driving range saving 1780 litres of fossil fuel.
Mr Lambie said he was enthusiastic about council installing the charging stations
He said the war in Ukraine, which had driven up petrol prices, was making people have a re-think about what vehicle they drove.
"People have a problem with up front costs (of buying an EV) and that's fair enough but if your usage pattern is to do quite a few miles every day, you can charge an electric vehicle for $10 compared to more than $60 for a petrol vehicle," Mr Lambie said.
"Given how dependent we are on oil from overseas, when we do transition to EV and we can generate our own electricity so we're not relying on importing that energy from overseas."
Mr Lambie said Australia could even export its renewable energy, pointing to the Sun Cable project which would see the Northern Territory supply renewable electricity to Singapore via a 4200km cable from Darwin
He said the export of renewable energy and hydrogen would be worth 10 times what the export of fossil fuels was worth to Australia now.
"We are non partisan but we support initiatives that takes away from fossil fuels and quickens our path to renewables," Mr Lambie said.
"It doesn't make any sense to invest in gas when it is costly and there's no need to."
Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said the proposed investment would send a potent signal to consumers and the EV industry.
"We know range anxiety remains a major impediment to Australians purchasing EVs," he said.
"Although much of this anxiety is misplaced, building a modern network of charging infrastructure would send a strong signal that there's nothing to fear.
"City drivers are flocking to EVs because the benefits are so clear and obvious. For regional drivers hesitancy is stronger, but that's why it's excellent to see the NRMA committing to partnering with the federal government to roll out regional charging infrastructure and make EVs an option for all Australians."
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