EV owners win High Court challenge against Victorian tax

Plaintiffs Kathleen Davies and Christopher Vanderstock (EV tax)
Plaintiffs Kathleen Davies and Christopher Vanderstock (Images: Equity Generation Lawyers)

The High Court has thrown out a controversial Victorian Government tax on electric vehicles (EVs) designed to match the contribution drivers of fuel-powered vehicles already make to road maintenance through a Commonwealth fuel excise.

The controversial tax meant drivers of plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles were forced to pay for the distance they travel on public roads.

Related article: Victoria’s EV tax faces High Court challenge

Victorian EV owners Christopher Vanderstock and Kathleen Davies challenged the tax in the High Court, arguing it was unconstitutional because it was an excise, which could only be imposed by the Commonwealth.

The High Court’s decision was a win for Australian motorists, the environment, and the national interest, according to the Electric Vehicle Council.

EVC CEO Behyad Jafari said the High Court ruling would pave the way to better policy across the nation.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with road user charges, but they should never be calibrated to discourage the take up of electric vehicles,” Jafari said.

“The electric vehicle industry warned the Victorian Government this policy was muddleheaded years ago, and the offer has always been on the table to work with the state on a more sensible approach.

“Any road user charge scheme should be national and we now look forward to working with the federal government on sensible road funding reform, without singling out drivers who are trying to do the right thing.

“Any scheme should apply to all vehicles and should take into consideration the economic cost of emissions.

“Australia’s priority should be on boosting the transition to EVs and decarbonising our transport system. There is no need for Australia to be dependent on imported oil today.

Related article: Organisations pen letter to SA govt over EV taxes

“Road funding is also an important consideration for government, but we should approach issues in the right order.

“Allowing states to simply shake down EV owners for a bit of extra tax is a retrograde approach, and I’m very glad to see the High Court slamming the brakes on that today.”

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