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Labor politician fails five times to answer question on when electric cars will be affordable 

Labor climate spokesman Chris Bowen has repeatedly failed to give a straight answer on when Australians will be able to buy an affordable electric car. 

Mr Bowen was asked five times by 7.30 report host Leigh Sales on Monday night, and gave an evasive answer full of Labor talking points each time.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has spent the past week pushing electric cars as a key plank of his party's climate agenda, promising tax cuts and incentives that Mr Bowen was on TV to promote.

But Sales knew most of that was of little interest to average Australian voters who just want to know when a decent one would be within their budgets.

ABC's 7.30 show host Leigh Sales (pictured) tried repeatedly to get a straight answer from Labor MP Chris Bowen on Monday night

She started gently, asking: 'On electrifying things, let's take one of the best selling cars, the Hyundai i30, it costs about $25,000 if you buy a new one.

'What’s your best prediction under a Labor government as to when would I be able to buy that equivalent-sized car for $25,000, but electric?'

Mr Bowen replied: 'Well, our policy is the electric vehicle tax cut, the main lever that we’re pushing.'

Then he got a bit more specific: 'We have a couple of electric vehicle policies including electrifying the Commonwealth fleet which is important because that will then flow through to the second-hand sales about three years later, which is very important. 

'So we would have 75 per cent of our new Commonwealth vehicles, not just Comcars but the entire fleets, as electric by 2025...'

Ms Sales interrupted in an attempt to get Mr Bowen to give a straight answer: 'Sorry to cut you off. Just for a consumer…'

But then Mr Bowen interrupted her: 'No, fair call. We would cut the taxes on electric vehicles below the luxury car tax threshold, so the more affordable ones. 

Labor's shadow minister for climate change and energy used a lot of energy to not answer a straight question on ABC's 7.30 program on Monday night

'We'd cut the tariff, abolish the tariff where a tariff is payable on an electric vehicle and for businesses we would abolish the fringe benefits tax. Now why is that important…'

Again, the 7.30 presenter intervened: 'You’re talking in a way that [for] the average person, it’s just going over their head. I just want to know when can I buy an electric car for 25,000 bucks?'

Mr Bowen tried again: 'Well, our tax cut, which is the policy that will apply, will take roughly $2,000 off the cost by the tariff reduction, and for a business, $9,000 off.

'And a business is just important, apart from the fact that around 50 per cent of car sales are fleet, then flows through again to the second-hand market, so you get more affordable second-hand electric vehicles.'

What is a Comcar? 

Comcar is part of the Department of Finance, an Australian Government agency, which provides high quality, secure and confidential car-with-driver and other ground transport services to the Governor‑General, Prime Minister, parliamentarians, members of the Federal Judiciary and other high office holders.

Source: finance.gov.au 

Ms Sales offers him a prompt to get to the point: 'Yeah, but they cost like $70,000, to get a Tesla Model 3.' 

'Yeah, those ones do, but we see other countries with more affordable EVs (electric vehicles) available and we want to make those EVs more affordable in Australia by cutting the taxes,' Mr Bowen replied. 

'And then you put on top of that some of the state rebates. Many of the states now have rebates for buying electric vehicles, Labor and Liberal. 

'You put that together with a tax cut under a Labor government, you do get electric vehicles more affordable, but only with a policy framework to achieve it.'

Ms Sales' patience was by now wearing thin, and she tried to explain to Mr Bowen why it was important for everyday Australians that he answer the question.

'But how soon? Because people have to decide now, "should I get a new car next year, should I wait five years? When should I get an electric vehicle?"' she asked.

Mr Bowen, with that final opportunity to answer the question, failed again to do so.

'Well our tax cut would apply from the first of July when we come to office. The state rebates are already there, so they will start working. They'll start working,' he said.

'We have a very low electric vehicle sales rate in Australia. The lowest in the world. That needs to turn around. 

'Australians have got to have choice. We want to give Australians that choice by making the electric vehicles more affordable. That's exactly what our policy will achieve.' 

Shadow minister for industry Ed Husic (pictured left), Labor leader Anthony Albanese (pictured centre) and shadow minister for climate change Chris Bowen (pictured right) with an electric vehicle at a car dealership in Sydney

Labor's electric car policy 

A Labor Government will introduce an electric car discount – to make electric cars cheaper so that more families who want them can afford them, and to reduce emissions.

As part of the discount, Labor will exempt many electric cars from:  

These exemptions will be available to all electric cars below the luxury car tax threshold for fuel efficient vehicles ($77,565 in 2020-21).

This cut-off will encourage car manufacturers to import and supply more affordable electric models in Australia.

Source: alp.org.au