HIGH COURT CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE TO VICTORIA’S “FLAWED” ELECTRIC VEHICLE TAX
Equity Generation Lawyers filed the case on the 16th of September
A High Court legal challenge to Victoria’s controversial electric vehicle tax by two drivers will argue that the State of Victoria lacks the constitutional power to levy a road user charge on electric vehicle drivers.
The case was filed on the 16th of September on behalf of the drivers by Equity Generation Lawyers.
In July 2021, the Victorian Government introduced a new tax which charges electric vehicle drivers between two cents and 2.5 cents for every kilometre they drive.
Melbourne father and nurse manager Chris Vanderstock, one of the drivers bringing the case who uses his car for his daily work commute, said he had additional concerns to the constitutional validity of the laws.
“Instead of taxing clean technologies, the Victorian Government should be concentrating on getting dirty cars off the road,” Chris said.
“Electric vehicles are cleaner and improve health and climate outcomes for everybody.
“Why is the Victorian Government taxing electric vehicles when they have a demonstrable health benefit?”
Melbourne mother and engineering consultant Kathleen Davies, the second electric vehicle driver mounting the High Court challenge, said she bought her first electric vehicle in 2012 to help reduce her family’s environmental impact.
“Not only are electric vehicles better for the environment, they are also cheaper to run,” Kathleen said.
“Electric vehicles are becoming more affordable every year but this tax is a backward step for people wanting to transition to a cleaner and more economical car.
“Victoria’s electric vehicle tax is fundamentally flawed and impractical. It punishes electric vehicle drivers and discourages the urgent need to decarbonise.”
Jack McLean, lawyer for the drivers, said his clients would argue that the State of Victoria lacked the constitutional power to levy the tax.
“In addition to the validity of the tax, our clients are concerned it’s also bad public policy,” Jack said.
“It discourages everyday Australians from switching to lower emission vehicles, prolonging our dependence on polluting oil.
“It’s bad for Victorians, it’s bad for the climate and we will argue that it is unconstitutional.”
In the wake of the High Court Challenge, The Electric Vehicle Council is urging the Victorian Government to demonstrate its commitment to tackling climate change by scrapping the tax.
EVC Chief Executive, Behyad Jafari, said he was deeply sympathetic to the plaintiffs in the case.
“I’m not surprised to hear there are grounds for a legal challenge, this plan was developed in secret without consultation with experts and has been rejected as premature and destructive by every other government in Australia,” Behyad said.
“It is fundamentally unfair for the state government to punish Victorians who made the socially and environmentally responsible choice to select an electric vehicle over a combustion engine alternative.
“People who buy EVs instead of ICE vehicles are making the civic-minded choice. They are helping clean the air of the pollution, reduce the state’s carbon emissions, and lessen the state’s dependence on foreign oil. For the government of that state to then single them out for special punishment is bizarre and unfair.
“There is nothing wrong with road user charges, but to aim them solely at the most environmentally-responsible form of motor vehicle is totally misguided.
“This case is an opportunity for the Victorian Government to demonstrate its commitment to tackling climate change is real by scrapping this destructive tax and getting on with developing a plan that will accelerate electric vehicle uptake.
“I urge the Victorian Government to listen to reason. Expert after expert has lined up to tell them this tax is misguided. It’s not too late to drop it and work with us to support the future of EVs in Victoria, as every other state and territory in Australia is doing.”