Farmer slams Govt's vehicle levy without ute alternatives as 'just a form of tax'

Source: 1News

Federated Farmers president Karen Williams says farmers have no problem getting on board with lowering emissions if there are reasonable options available. But she's critical of the Government's electric vehicle incentives without ute alternatives, saying they're "just a form of tax" for those who need the vehicles for work.

At the weekend, the Government launched new incentives to reward those opting for electric and hybrid vehicles. 

From the beginning of next month the Government is rolling out new rebates up to $8625 for new cars and $3450 for older used models. 

It's aimed to boost uptake in low emission alternatives and help reach the Government’s carbon-neutral 2050 goal, in light of the Climate Change Commission's recommendations. 

Vehicles that cost more than $80,000 won't be eligible for the rebate.

But also from next year, a sliding scale of fees on high emission vehicles will apply - with fees of up to $5875 to be paid on new combustion-engine vehicles depending on their emissions.

The people most likely to need to use work vehicles, which are currently nearly all in the high emission categories, include farmers.

However, Williams this morning told Breakfast there were currently no other good options in electric vehicles for the work they need.

She compared this policy to incentivising a town to use buses and disincentivising cars, then having no bus service in the town.

"I want to acknowledge that we support the transition to a lower carbon economy and recognise that the Government have got to take a lead in this.

"However to put a levy on a farm ute which that's also highly used by our trades people and our service industry, you know, our vets always come out in their ute, to put a levy on that with no alternative is really just a form of tax."

Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were low emissions utility vehicles coming on the market in the next year or two.

But Williams said farmers had been Googling for themselves, but it appeared to be "several years behind".

So why do farmers need to use utes?

Williams said they were multipurpose vehicles, used alongside quads and motorbikes.

She also said as a health and safety spokesperson it was important for people to choose the right vehicle for the right job.

"They carry a good load, they [have] good towing capacity and also that four-wheel-drive capability, but also, when farmers go to town we pick up the kids from maybe boarding school or school, we get the groceries, we pick up some posts, might get some drench, and we are able to do that in one trip to town.

"However, if we have to downsize in capacity and capability it's multiple trips to town so it doesn't make sense from an emissions perspective."

Williams said to make the switch there needs to be electric vehicles which are "fit for purpose", have towing capacity, are safe and affordable.

"We're not pushing back on there being a levy on higher vehicles, we won't push that once we have those tools at our disposal," she said.