Opinion: The motoring policies we’d like to see raised at the Australian federal election

As a nation that relies heavily on car transportation, motoring issues should be a high priority for governments come election time. But in a country that lacks sustainable transport infrastructure, and with governments that still stand behind archaic taxes such as the Luxury Car Tax, it sometimes feels as though motoring is a forgotten landscape.

Like them or not, it’s the reason why the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party was founded in 2013. Formed primarily to protect the interests of motoring enthusiasts, the party leader even won a seat in the federal parliament.

While the world has moved on since AMEP, it can still feel as though motoring issues are seldom mentioned on a federal level. It prompted us at Drive to talk about what we’d like to see put forward by prospective governments in the lead-up to the federal election in just over a month.

Here are some ideas from the Drive editorial team.

I’d like to see the removal of – or a reframing around – Luxury Car Tax (LCT) in its current form. It now sits far from its original purpose of protecting the interests of the local car manufacturing industry, after the last Australian manufacturer Holden was closed five years ago.

But industry analysis from Drive finds that even family SUVs and four-wheel drives (which aren’t necessarily luxurious) are now hit with the tax – far from its original purpose.

Today’s LCT threshold of $69,152 should be increased to a more relevant barrier, for example.  Or, at the very least, the tax should be renamed.

Josh Dowling, National Motoring Editor

National road rules. National penalties.

A national approach to road rules that could alleviate mismatches between varying states.

Every state in Australia should adopt the same stamp duty charge. This would make the comparison of car prices far easier to understand, and makes better sense for buyers throughout the country. As an example, duty on a $60,000 car in New South Wales is $2100, whereas the duty on the same priced car in Tasmania is $2400.

Justin Narayan, Senior Journalist

Scrap LCT.

Historic registration of 25 years in all states at least, if not 20 years old, as classic cars are getting younger than ever before.

Maybe even a form of national registration, or am I thinking too big here?

Emma Notarfrancesco, Senior Journalist

Personally, I’d be swayed by more electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Must it be so impossible to charge an electric vehicle these days? And must we be forced to travel so far to charge them?

Where’s the comfort in knowing that if we buy an EV, we are so limited? And if only we could travel to the coast or to the country without range anxiety and extensive research having to be a factor. We are too far behind. 

Susannah Guthrie, Journalist

I think some kind of national policy on electric vehicles – whether a rebate or a tax, just something consistent – rather than a state-by-state approach would simplify things for consumers (and for those of us who have to write about the EV industry, an added bonus).

Kez Casey, Production Editor

Australia may not be a country suited to a single fuelling solution, but a national framework on future fuels needs to be fleshed out.

Ideally that would see some in-depth transport industry analysis. Should rail be used in place of road shipping? Would hydrogen be better suited to short-haul trucking? How will increased adoption of EVs impact the electricity grid?

From there, guidelines and targets on how and where the necessary infrastructure should appear. Targets for refuelling points (whatever they may be), and details like ensuring both new and existing dwellings can be served with a sustainable EV charging. All steps on the road to changing Australia’s fleet over from internal combustion to alternative fuels with a unified national approach that fits the unique demands of our country.

Rob Margeit, Features Editor

I’d like to see all privately owned toll roads returned to public hands.

Perhaps private toll road companies should get 10 years to earn back their initial investment, then a further 10 years of management to make a profit, before the roads are handed back to the government.

Alex Misoyannis, Journalist

Increase the LCT threshold to $100K, as per Josh’s suggestion – but to make up for the lost revenue, what if we introduced something similar to New Zealand’s Clean Car Discount/Tax program?

This would penalise buyers of high-emissions cars – which should generate plenty of revenue for the government, given how many utes we buy – but will reward buyers of EVs, PHEVs, and even closed-loop hybrids with national rebates of a few thousand dollars, in addition to (or replacing) state incentives. I’d like this to be a thing… But sadly I can’t see any party introducing this given the massive backlash it would attract.

What commitments would you like to see from politicians at election time? Let us know in the comments section below what motoring-related policies would sway you to vote for a particular party.

Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned that journalists got the better end of the deal. He began with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during its transition to Drive.

As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories.

He understands that every car buyer is unique and has varying requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but equally, there’s also a loyal subset of Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content.

Tom holds a deep respect for all things automotive no matter the model, priding himself on noticing the subtle things that make each car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an everchanging industry, which is then imparted to the Drive reader base.

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