Why is the government giving rich people up to $30,000 to drive electric cars?

Last week I spoke against Labor’s Bill that is giving rich people up to $30,000 off the cost of an electric vehicle.

The Labor party has no plan to recycle EV batteries nor do they even know what the cost of this Bill is.

Not that they care. This is all about looking after their wealthy mates while hard working Australians pick up the tab.

Chamber: Senate on 24/11/2022

Item: BILLS – Treasury Laws Amendment (Electric Car Discount) Bill 2022 – Second Reading


Senator RENNICK (Queensland) (17:59): I too rise to speak about the Treasury Laws Amendment (Electric Car Discount) Bill 2022. I’d just like to flag that I’ll be moving a second reading amendment to this bill, to do with recycling—which is very, very important—to make sure we clean up the mess that this bill will create. And I just want to reiterate Senator Brockman’s words: that this is nothing but a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Just this week, the Australian Financial Review came out and said that this tax break could be worth up to $30,000—$30,000, for rich people who can afford to buy an electric car. And that’s going to come out of general revenue, which means that the poor, the lower-income earners, will have to pay more taxes, just to balance the budget. We’ve heard in here from Senator Wong—she’s not here this afternoon, which is a shame—that renewables are cheaper. So can somebody tell me this: if renewables are cheaper, why do we need to give a tax break of up to $30,000 for every new EV that is bought? That is absolutely absurd.

I can tell you something: if you want to look after the environment, the best way to do that is to have a strongly growing economy. And there is nothing productive about giving a tax break on cars that are going to be driven around the inner city and might travel a couple of hundred kilometres if you’re lucky. We’re going to be having extension leads running out over footpaths and hanging up over trees. The stupidity! We’ve seen this in Sydney already, where people are trying to charge their cars on the street, with on-street parking. How dangerous is that? And for what? For nothing but a pipe dream.

These people want you to believe that they’re struggling under global warming. We were told that yesterday, by the CSIRO, who came out and said that the temperature has risen by 1.47 degrees since 1910. I must admit, when I first heard that figure quoted in question time yesterday, I nearly fell out of my chair, because, just back in 2018—and I remember these numbers, just like that—the CSIRO and BOM said that the temperature had risen by one degree. So, in 2018, in the 108 years since 1910, these guys said the temperature had risen by one degree. Now they want us to believe that it has risen by another 0.47 of a degree in just the last four years. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t hotter this year. The last two years have been cooler and wetter than the prior years, 2018 to 2020. They were quite warm years, I’ll accept. But, in the last couple of years, things have actually cooled off a bit here in Australia, certainly along the east coast—and even up in Cairns.

I was up in Cairns earlier this year, and it was down to seven degrees. They were complaining that they had to put jumpers on for the first time in their lifetime—that’s how cold it was at the Cairns show. That had never happened before—people wearing jumpers at the Cairns show. Isn’t that right, Senator Scarr?

Senator Scarr: Absolutely!

Senator RENNICK: It just goes to show.

I have to note that Senator Wong isn’t here. She called me a coward yesterday, when I questioned these figures, as if to ask: who was I to question the BOM and the CSIRO? I’ll tell you who I am to question the CSIRO and the BOM: I’m someone who has studied statistics in senior, at university and in my postgraduate degree. So I’m very well versed in statistics and I’m very well versed in record keeping. It is very important to note that the record keeping that the BOM undertakes is nothing to do with science; it’s purely record keeping. You take a measurement, you write the number down and you store it away for posterity. You don’t start creating multiple datasets—well, you’re not changing the initial dataset. You create a new dataset and then you report the whole new dataset.

And you don’t have to take my word for it because, back in 2011, there was an independent peer review done on the BOM’s observation practices. You can look this up. It’s a really important one. I haven’t talked about this in years, because I’ve been distracted by a few other issues. Of the Australian Climate Observations Reference Network—Surface Air Temperature, or ACORN-SAT, there was an independent peer review, and I’ve got here the Report of the independent peer review panel, 4 September 2011. I want to come to the key paragraph, because they do acknowledge that the Bureau of Meteorology is very good at homogenisation. Now, that is doublespeak for modelling—which is doublespeak for fudging, right? I can talk about economists; I’ve dealt with economists all my life. There’s a big rift between accountants and economists, because we don’t like modellers; we like people that measure real things. So let me take you to the key paragraph here:

… the World Meteorological Organization’s Guide … states that an acceptable range of error for thermometers (including those used for measuring maximum and minimum temperature) is ±0.2 °C. However, throughout the last 100 years, Bureau of Meteorology guidance has allowed for a tolerance of ±0.5 °C—

plus or minus half a degree—

for field checks of either in-glass or resistance thermometers. This is the primary reason the Panel did not rate the observing practices amongst international best practices.

There you have it, Senator Wong—I know you’re not in the chamber, but if you’re listening, check it out. This was the review that you commissioned—either you or Greg Combet—back in 2011 when you were the environment minister. They’re not my words, they’re from an independent peer review in 2011. One of the first questions I asked in estimates as a young whippersnapper back in 2019 was to the bureau on whether or not they’d reduced that margin of error—and they hadn’t. Plus or minus half a degree is one degree. Minus half a degree on the low side and plus half a degree on the top side is a degree. That is exactly what they were claiming until about two years ago. The so-called increase in temperature is purely within the margin of error. I could go on, but I thought that needed to be said for the record after that imputation from Senator Wong yesterday about me being a coward. No, it’s actually all written here.

The other thing we need to talk about here is that somehow renewables are cheaper. I’d really like to know on what basis the Labor Party, Senator Wong, and the member for Sydney, Tanya Plibersek—who said it earlier this week on TV—think that renewables are cheaper. That’s an interesting comment to make. When I was in estimates, I asked Senator McAllister how many kilometres of transmission lines are going to have to be built to reach the 43 per cent reduction in CO2 by 2030? Lo and behold, Senator McAllister had absolutely no idea. Here is the range we were given: somewhere between 5,000 kilometres and 28,000 kilometres. Can you believe that? That is a massive range. If we had done 28,000 kilometres of ripping out scars across the beautiful countryside, farmland and native forests, is that good for the environment? I don’t think so. I don’t think scarring the landscape with transmission lines will be good for the environment at all. But that’s not all: we’ll also be getting the deaths of eaglehawks and bats. Bats, along with bees, are one of the key pollinators of our native plants in this country, but in the name of reducing carbon emissions—by the way, as I said the other day, carbon dioxide is recycled naturally every four years. That’s all free. That’s true. If you want free energy, come back to photosynthesis. But I digress.

Let’s get back to the batteries. I can tell you, if you think transmission lines, solar panels and wind turbines are going to be bad for the environment, wait until you break down the cost of what goes into building a battery. Lithium is a one per cent ore body. That means you have to mine 100 tons of the ore to get one ton of lithium. That involves an intensive electrolysis process to get the metal out of the ore. But that’s not all—you can’t go and get the ore body out of the ground; you have to go around and around in the big mining trucks and the caterpillars and everything else that picks up all the dirt, and cart it out. You can often have a stripping ratio of up to 10 to one, which means to get one ton of lithium metal you might have to shift a thousand tons of dirt. Guess what? That’s just one of the many metals that goes into a battery. You have other things, like aluminium, steel and cobalt. And where’s the world’s biggest producer of cobalt? It’s the Democratic Republic of the Congo. How do they get their cobalt out of the ground? That’s right, child labour. Gee, that’s going to be good for the environment. It’s bad enough that all of these so-called renewables—which they’re not, none of this stuff recycles naturally throughout the environment every four years like carbon dioxide does—but it’s also a human rights issue. It’s going to be bad for the children in the Congo and who knows what other countries.

It’s obviously a human rights issue here because we are transferring $30,000 every time a new car is bought from the poor to the rich, from the working class to the wealthy. That is what the Labor Party and the Greens are today—they are the parties for the inner-city, self-loathing, virtue-signalling, rent-seeking elites. That is what they are. I well remember a former Labor Prime Minister said, ‘God save the Queen, because nothing will save the Governor-General.’ Let me say, ‘God save the King, because nothing will save the Labor Party from the working class when they have their noses driven into the grindstone by the increase in taxes and the economic pain that is going to come from higher energy prices and watching as the urban elites drive around with their electric cars while the working class are struggling in their petrol cars.’ And it’s not just a handout of $30,000 for a car. The working class are also going to have to pay the fuel excise. These electric cars aren’t going to have any fuel excise. Are we going to have a user toll on them?

On top of that, good luck to you if you’re trying to actually get your car charged. I was reading an article on the weekend that someone sent to me. It said that there is now ‘recharging rage’ in the UK because people have to wait so long to get their cars charged. If someone accidentally bumps into the queue where others have been waiting for three hours, fights are starting at the recharging stations. It’s not like with an internal combustion car—you just pull up, fill up your tank and drive away. It won’t be too long before there’s another bill in here where we’re suddenly going to have to start building the recharging stations. I guarantee you that’s what will be happening.

No sooner has the ink dried on the 43 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide by 2030 and what have we got? We’ve got another handout with the fringe benefits tax for renewable cars. It will just keep on coming. I guarantee you that the Rewiring the Nation fund of $20 billion will have to be increased. There was modelling the other day that showed that it will cost about $1 billion, or some astounding amount, for every kilometre of transmission line. It was estimated that, to rewire Australia to get to the 43 per cent, it would cost something like $100 billion. So the $20 billion Rewiring the Nation fund is not going to cover it.

If you think that the private sector is going to stump up $80 billion of their own money, forget it—unless, of course, it’s superannuation money. They might get there that way. It’s bad enough that you’ve got to pay the fuel excise, but now you’re being forced into paying 12 per cent super. I say to our young people: don’t think you’re ever going to see your super again, because they are going to blow it because these super funds are driven by ideology, not productivity—this ESG stuff. They’re all bought. You’ve got the Marxist in the boardroom now. They’re not driven by productivity; they’re driven by ideology. That is a sure recipe to send this country broke.

I just want to touch on one other thing: these electric cars are going to be up to 800 kilograms to 1,000 kilograms heavier. That is going to increase the distance for braking. We’re going to have more car accidents because your braking speed is going to be much slower. The weight of these cars can increase by 20 to 30 per cent. We’re going to have to use more energy just for the car to travel around because they’re going to have massive batteries. These things are solid bricks. Imagine the impact of getting T-boned by these cars, especially here in Australia.

I was actually just talking to a famous Queenslander—Queenslander of the Year 1986—Russell Strong, who did Australia’s first liver transplant. I’ll let you guess why we got in touch. He’s on my side, by the way, if you’re wondering. The reason why we have more liver transplants in Australia is because we drive on the left-hand side of the road. If the driver gets T-boned, it damages the liver. So there are going to be more liver transplants.

The other thing is: what about the southern hairy-nosed wombat? What will happen to it when all these inner-city elites from Sydney are driving down in their new EV cars for their ski trip? The member for Warringah had a lovely career growing up, travelling the world and competing in ski trips. What will happen to these guys—our little marsupial friends on the road—with increased braking time? Are we going to have more deaths of southern hairy-nosed wombats because of these electric vehicles throughout the winter season, with all the elites driving these heavier cars with longer braking distance? What about all the extra rubber pollution off the tyres and all the extra brake wear? What about that? Have all these people looked into this?

Then there’s the cost of recycling. Who could forget Larry Marshall’s famous words in estimates when he said—and I didn’t ask him this; he actually proffered this himself—that it’s going to cost three times as much to recycle a battery as it will cost for the materials that actually go into it. What are the chances of that actually ever being economical, when the cost of recycling something is three times more than the cost of building it? I’ll tell you: it is not going to happen. This bill will not only destroy the environment; it will destroy the economy and it will destroy our country. It is just another step on the path to destruction because of this useless Albanese Labor government.





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