Australia takes aim at Victoria’s extra EV tax


In Australia, the Federal Government has formally joined a legal bid to strike down Victoria’s controversial electric vehicle tax. According to a report in The Age, federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus filed an intervention in the High Court, supporting two Victorian motorists reportedly seeking to have the state’s EV levy ruled unconstitutional. UPDATE

The controversial electric vehicle tax itself levies a charge for electric vehicles to pay per kilometre driven. The idea is to have all motorists pay for road maintenance, as Australia traditionally took these funds from gasoline sales tax. The two mentioned Victorian motorists took to the courts to fight the decision on the grounds that it is unconstitutional in October last year.

This decision will likely settle how Australian road taxes are levied in future. “The Commonwealth government would like to work with Victoria, and with the other states and territories, on policy relating to electric vehicles,” a spokesperson for the attorney-general said. “We think that is best done through governments working cooperatively.”

Update 19 October 2023

The controversial electric vehicle tax in the Australian state of Victoria has been struck down by the high court, finding the Victorian tax was unconstitutional. According to The Guardian, the decision will likely prevent New South Wales and Western Australia from proceeding with plans to introduce road-user charges from 2027.

“Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world on electric vehicle uptake,” said Kath Davies, who was one of the drivers who launched the lawsuit shortly after the state government introduced its zero- and low-emission vehicle road user charge, adding: “Now is not the time to be taxing electric vehicles – it’s the time to be doing everything we can to encourage people to make the switch to cleaner cars.”

Update 04 December 2023

Victorian electric vehicle drivers will be repaid millions of dollars collected under an unconstitutional tax, however, it could take months before the cash begins to flow. The High Court ruled Victoria’s electric vehicle impost constitutionally invalid last month, as states do not have the power to impose excise taxes on consumption. Treasurer Tim Pallas confirmed that the government was obliged to repay the money collected.

“We’re now going through a process of identifying who it is that we need to rebate,” Pallas told reporters on Wednesday. He further added that he disagreed with the ruling: “It’s a relatively small amount. What is not a relatively small amount is a re-imagining of the constitution by the High Court … and it’s going to cause very substantial problems for every state.”

This sentiment was not shared by everyone in government, as MP Brad Rowswell said the money should be returned to Victorians’ pockets before Christmas: “For goodness sakes, they’ve known since October that this tax was collected illegally.  They didn’t need to wait for advice, the government should have done the right thing at that time and got in place a system to return this money to Victorians who need it now more than ever.”, (update), (update II)


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