SENATE COMMITTEE REJECTS CONTROVERSIAL GREENS BILL

The Environment and Communications Legislation Committee of the Senate has recommended to the Senate that it not pass the Motor Vehicle Standards (Cheaper Transport) Bill 2014.

First introduced to the Senate by former leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne, in July 2014, the policy rationale of the Bill was “to improve the fuel efficiency of new cars purchased in Australia to reduce costs to motorists, reduce emissions into our atmosphere, promote strong trade ties, reduce dependence on imported oil and provide future jobs for the automotive parts and services industry”.

The Bill aimed to achieve this by setting carbon emissions standards for new passenger vehicles and light commercial vehicles from 2017 (phased-in) to align with the existing EU 2020 standard by 2023. The commencement of the vehicle carbon emissions standard was intended to coincide with the dismantling of automotive vehicle manufacturing in Australia.

AADA lodged a submission to the committee on 18 September 2015 that raised a number of concerns with the Bill. (The submission can be accessed on the AADA website under ‘Policy Submissions’.) AADA believes the policy rationale of the Bill was broad, ambitious, ambiguous and contradictory. A concern was the lack of consultation by the promoters of the Bill with the automotive industry in Australia. This oversight was bought to the committee’s attention in AADA’s submission. AADA referred to the poor drafting of the Bill, which would, in the definition of a motor vehicle, include categories for motor cycles and mopeds.

AADA also advised the committee that the imposition of emissions standards in Australia by direct reference to EU or US standards should be treated with caution, as the methodology and assumptions on which those standards are based are specific to those countries.

AADA’s concerns with the Bill and those of FCAI have been recognised and supported by the committee. The committee made a single recommendation that the Senate not pass the Motor Vehicle Standards (Cheaper Transport) Bill 2014.

The decision was not unanimous, however, with Committee Member and Green’s Senator for Queensland, Larissa Waters, producing a Dissenting Report in support of the Bill. Without the committee’s support, AADA is confident the Bill will not pass the Senate.

As part of the submission, AADA recommended the Federal Government adopt a whole-of-government approach in addressing the issue of motor vehicle emissions.

The Government has announced the establishment of a Ministerial Forum to examine a range of issues, including the implementation of Euro 6, fuel quality standards, fuel efficiency measures (CO2) for light vehicles and emission testing arrangements.

AADA CEO, Bruce McDonald, attended the first meeting in Sydney on 7 December 2015.

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