The Opposition and ACT are criticising the Government's new package that is funding rebates for electric vehicles (EVs) through fees for "higher emitting" cars, calling it "another tax by stealth".
The Government announced its Clean Car Package on Sunday morning, in line with the advice of the Climate Change Commission, to drive down New Zealand's emissions. The package includes a range of measures to help New Zealand meet its 2050 carbon neutral target.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said these measures include a "discount on electric, hybrid and low-emission vehicles, funded from a fee on higher-emitting ones".
From July 1, rebates for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will begin, with up to $8625 for new vehicles and $3450 for used.
National Party leader Judith Collins has blasted what she calls "Labour's punitive car tax", arguing that New Zealanders who need a high-emission vehicle for work will be forced to cover rebates for those with electric cars.
"If you need a ute or a van for your work, you will be forced to pay a tax to subsidise someone else's Tesla or BMW," she said on Facebook following the announcement.
The National Party's transport spokesperson, Michael Woodhouse, says the scheme will "unfairly punish Kiwis who don't have the option right now of switching to an electric vehicle".
He says National supports introducing financial incentives for people to purchase EVs, but does not agree with financially punishing those who can't.
"Labour's car tax policy will unfairly hurt farmers, tradespeople and low-income earners for whom low-emission vehicles will still be too expensive or unsuitable for their lifestyle," he said
"The people who benefit will be higher-income earners who now don't have to pay as much for a Tesla. We don't think it's fair to make tradies pay more for a Hilux so wealthy executives can get a discount on their next electric car."
ACT leader David Seymour says Labour has "broken its promise" to not introduce new taxes by "slapping new taxes on tradies, farmers and large families" through the Clean Car Package.
"In September 2020, Grant Robertson said 'we will not be implementing any new taxes this term', aside from hiking the top income tax rate," he said in a statement on Sunday.
"Let's be clear - this is a new tax. A tradie or a farmer purchasing a Toyota Hilux will be slapped with a new tax of $2900. A family buying a Kia Sportage will be taxed $1230."
Seymour says the Government "already" taxes and subsidies cars based on their fuel efficiency via petrol tax.
"Motorists pay 77.3c a litre in petrol taxes, plus an ETS tax of 9c a litre. In Auckland, there's a further 10c regional fuel tax. GST is charged on top, taking total tax to around 99.3c a litre (and 110.8c in Auckland). That means EV owners get a subsidy of at least 99.3c a litre in taxes."
Under the Clean Car Package, the Government is also providing EV chargers every 75km along most state highways; nearly four times the funding for the Low Emission Transport Fund by 2023; an EV buyers guide; the establishment of an electric vehicles sector leadership group; and the establishment of a proposed Sustainable Biofuels Mandate.
Consultation on the Sustainable Biofuels Mandate is open until 5pm on July 26, 2021 and submissions can be made here.