MUNGO MacCALLUM. Our Leader remains, as so often, in Luddite denial.

Apr 15, 2019

According to ScoMo , electric cars are for wimps and latte sippers – real Australians want more grunt. Oink oink, vroom vroom! Wheelies, doughnuts, burnouts!  

Real Aussies drive utes, with a spare SUV to take the family camping at the weekend. Bill Shorten and his dinkies just don’t cut it – as Matthias Cormann might say, just a girly man. Revheads rule, OK?

Malcolm Turnbull tactfully described ScoMo’s rant as peak crazy, which it obviously was. But perhaps even worse, it was pig (grunt) ignorant.

Our prime minister apparently believes that electric vehicles are still in the most primitive stages of underdevelopment. But, as the model T Ford has evolved to the Toyota Hilux, electric cars have changed far more quickly, the surge driven by high end technology and insatiable demand.

Nowadays they can outpace Ferraris and pull heavy caravans, as can be seen in innumerable internet posts. And if the punters want utes, they will quickly be provided. Indeed, Toyota itself is in the process of transitioning its entire operation to electric by 2050.

The change is both swift and irrevocable; in much of Europe electric is rapidly becoming the preferred option and here in Australia, the government’s own projections expect somewhere between 26 and 50 per cent of new vehicles to be electric by 2030. Shorten’s target is at the top end, but is by no means fanciful.

It may well be that in rural and some regional areas there will be resistance, but far more than half the nation’s drivers live in the cities, for which electrics, quiet, pollution free and cheaper to run, are the ideal conditions.

Of course, our leader remains, as so often, in Luddite denial. He ridiculed Shorten’s claim that vehicles could recharge in about eight minutes, but not only is the technology already available, Morrison’s own government is funding the infrastructure to implement it.

Shorten wants to go to the next step – not only importing electric vehicles but manufacturing them in whole or in part, in Australia. This is a very big ask, given the demise of the highly subsidised motor industry in the past and economic purists will reject it the idea on the spot, but the displaced workers in Geelong, Elizabeth and Altona, among others, might be more enthusiastic.

However, that is for the future – the present is that electric vehicles are coming, ready or not. Obviously there will be problems and glitches along the way, but other countries are readily overcoming them – is ScoMo suggesting that Australia is unable to do so? Does he really want us to be stuck in the age of the gas guzzlers?

Given his administration’s refusal to take science seriously when it comes to climate change, it is hardly surprising that he yearns for a past when things were so much less complicated. So perhaps he really yearns to go back to the simple times of the horse and buggy, and his vision is not for machines he cannot comprehend, but for the days when transport relies on flying pigs. Now there’s grunt for you.

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