Tradie tax claims ‘absolute rubbish’

Claims the government is targeting tradies with new fuel standards are ‘absolute rubbish’, Jim Chalmers says. Picture: NCA NewsWire / John Gass

Jim Chalmers has quashed claims tradies could soon face price hikes on utes under a plan to overhaul the nation’s fuel efficiency standards.

The changes would incentivise the car industry to boost the sales of low and zero emissions vehicles or face fines for selling too many fuel-hungry cars.

Motoring bodies have warned that tradies and families could have fewer choices if popular utes, four-wheel drives and light commercial vehicles were phased out of the market before there are EV alternatives.

But speaking with Nine, the Treasurer dismissed suggestions the change amounted to a “tradie tax”.

“That’s absolute rubbish. This is about getting costs down rather than up,” he said.

The Treasurer insisted the rules would save Australians money. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Valeriu Campan

“There’s absolutely no evidence that it pushes up the prices of utes and cars. The Americans have had this for something like 50 years and they love their pick-up trucks.

“It doesn’t tell anyone what kind of car to buy or what kind of ute to buy. It just means there are more options for people who want to get a more fuel-efficient vehicle to get their costs down.”

The Albanese government says the new rules would bring Australia in line with most other major economies and save motorists about $1000 a year in average fuel costs by 2028.

While particular models won’t be banned, car brands would be bound by a cap on average emissions, which the government proposes to slash by 60 per cent by the end of the decade.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowens said the changes would give consumers access to cars they were “currently missing out on”.

“When it comes to EVs and hybrids, there are 150 models or more available in the United States and New Zealand but under 100 available in Australia,” he said.

But not everyone is convinced.

New fuel efficiency standards, unveiled on Sunday, are designed to drive the uptake of low and zero emissions vehicles. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Naomi Jellicoe

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber said while there was no question combustion engines were on the way out, the government needed to stump up the cash in order to meet its ambitious target.

“We are not unhappy with the plan. We’ve been calling for this for over a decade. It’s something the car manufacturer’ want,” he told ABC Radio.

“The question here is … the 60 per cent improvement in just five years for a mature industry. Can we meet that challenge? And at what price point can we meet that challenge. And what products can we actually provide to the market, given that challenge?”

While the government has touted the rules were modelled after the US, Mr Weber said it lacked one crucial element.

“It is not a US scheme they are putting on the table from what we can see because in the US there are enormous incentives provided,” he said.

“Incentives provided to the manufacturer to subside production and then there are incentives provided to consumers to buy the vehicle.”

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said the government would “deal with stakeholders seeking additional support”.

“We look at all of these matters as they come,” she said.

The government will continue to consult on the standard and plans to introduce a regulator to oversee compliance before year’s end.