Clean Vehicles Bill passes first reading

Nissan Leaf EVs lined up for sale. Photo: RNZ.

The government's plan to reward those who buy EVs and low-emission vehicles and charge those importing gas guzzlers is now a step closer to becoming law.

The Clean Vehicles Bill passed its first reading in Parliament on Tuesday.

Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori supported the bill and National and ACT opposed the bill.

Minister of Transport Michael Wood says this means the country is another step closer to meeting its climate goals.

"The bill will help prevent millions of tonnes of emissions from our light vehicle fleet, give kiwis access to more cars that are cheaper to run, and make it cheaper for families to buy electric and low emission cars.

"It also helps bring us into line with most other countries in the OECD who already have import emission standards."

The bill establishes the legal framework for key parts of the government's Clean Car Package, including the Import Standards and Clean Car Discount.

Since July, a rebate scheme has been in place for imported electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

This will be expanded in April to include low-emission vehicles and also charge those importing higher emitting vehicles.

However, National's transport spokesperson David Bennett says the scheme is a tax grab, hitting hard-working and vulnerable New Zealanders hardest.

"This is politics of the elite, for the elite and it will hurt the people that very much are the ones who need to be looked after in the transition to a modern climate change economy."

The bill would backfire for the government, he says.

"People will keep their old cars longer and they will do less for the economy and they will do less for our emissions as a country, because we will be keeping those older cars."

However, Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter says the most vulnerable are not buying new cars.

"You are hugely out of touch if you think the people paying the fees on this are vulnerable New Zealanders," she says.

The bill will now progress to the Select Committee stage.

-RNZ.

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