With Scott Morrison gone, Sussan Ley has taken up the task of baseless EV bashing | Temperature Check

The deputy Liberal leader has been taken to task over the ‘totally wrong, wholly incorrect’ claim that no one is making electric utes

Once upon a time in the former Morrison government, policies to promote electric cars were going to “end the weekend”, while the vehicles themselves wouldn’t be able to tow your boat or trailer.

Now in opposition and with Scott Morrison consigned to the backbench, the Liberal party’s deputy leader, Sussan Ley, has continued the EV bashing.

Alongside boats and trailers, last week Ley invoked another Australian cultural touchstone – the utility vehicle – when she told Sky News “no one in the world is making an electric ute, by the way”.

Hold my beer.

Not only are several auto-manufacturers making electric utes, but the highest-profile of them all – Ford – has already started delivering them to customers in the US.

For decades, the US’s biggest-selling vehicle of any kind has been the Ford F-150 truck.

Since announcing the launch of the all-electric version of the truck last year, the company has taken about 200,000 reservations. The company has reportedly had to twice double the capacity of the Michigan factory building it.

The launch of the Ford F-150 Lightning should have been hard to miss. The US president, Joe Biden, planted his foot on the accelerator of one last year during a visit to Ford’s headquarters in Michigan.

The Chinese vehicle maker LDV has started selling its electric T60 ute in New Zealand, with reports it could be the first electric ute on the Australian market as early as this summer.

Jake Whitehead, head of policy at the Electric Vehicle Council, sat in two versions of the vehicles that “no one in the world is making, by the way” during a US visit only a few weeks ago.

“She is totally wrong and wholly incorrect,” said a confident Whitehead.

“But this is only symptomatic of the former government’s head-in-the-sand mentality over what’s actually going on around the world.”

Look what @jwhitehead94 and I found in #SantaMonica! An all #electric #Ford #F150 #Lightning!
Awesome #EV to see in real life. Everything you could want in an #electricute and more! Anything like this would sell like hotcakes in Aus. Just need right #policies to spur #investment! pic.twitter.com/OWq24UJVE0

— Dr Jake Whitehead (@DrJakeW) July 31, 2022

Alongside Ford, Whitehead lists Amazon-backed Rivian and LDV among companies already selling electric utes. Chevrolet is taking orders in the US for its electric Silverado. Tesla has said production of its Cybertruck will start in 2023.

Australian startup Roev is converting the ubiquitous Toyota Hilux into an electric ute that should be available for companies to buy next year.

“There are a number of models already available on the market overseas,” said Whitehead. “But Australia has been left behind because of a lack of vehicle emissions standards.

“It’s mind-blowing that there’s a certain segment of Australia that’s obsessed with talking down EV technology … Instead of having vehicles powered by Australian energy, they would like us to rely on imported fuel.”

While it’s true the electric versions of the trucks are more expensive than their internal-combustion counterparts, they come with much lower running and servicing costs and can be powered on renewables. And they don’t spew out particulates or CO2 from the tailpipe.

Ley’s statement has echoes of Scott Morrison in 2019 claiming an EV was “not going to tow your boat” about a year after Qantas filmed a Tesla towing a jumbo jet.

The Albanese government has said it will release a consultation paper this month to develop a national electric vehicle strategy “to improve uptake of electric vehicles and improve affordability and choice”.

King of gas

Announcing last week another 47,000 sq km of commonwealth waters would be open for oil and gas exploration, the resources minister, Madeleine King, said it was “central to alleviating future domestic gas shortfalls”.

But Australia does not have a shortage of gas. Far from it. About 74% of Australia’s gas is exported in the form of LNG, with a further 7% burned as the LNG is produced (and companies selling the LNG are making eye-watering profits from it).

The International Energy Agency has said if the world is to keep global heating to 1.5C – which the Albanese government says it wants – then there could be no new oil or gas projects from 2021.


Catholic cardinal George Pell described the “climate change movement” as a “pseudo-religion” in a column in the Australian newspaper at the weekend.

Pell, a sceptic of human-caused climate change, said Australia’s reluctance to build more coal power was an example of virtue signalling, claiming in 2021 there were “1,893 new coal-fired power stations” being built globally, with 446 in India and 1,171 in China.

Pell doesn’t say where his numbers are from. But not-for-profit group Global Energy Monitor tracks coal plants around the world and its data is widely used by researchers and major institutions.

According to GEM, there are currently 187 coal power stations under construction around the world – not Pell’s 1,893 (maybe the others were pseudo-coal plants?).

A further 292 are in the “pre-construction” phase. China has 96 under construction (not 1,171) and India has 23 (not 446). Power stations in the planning phase are not guaranteed to go ahead. For example, between 2010 and July 2022, GEM data shows plans for 498 coal plants in China were cancelled.

If you don’t think the climate crisis is a thing, then it becomes easy to advocate for more coal.

Then all you might worry about are the estimated half-a-million or so deaths a year from coal power around the world.

In any case, there was “no one obligatory Catholic position on climate change because we are a religion, teaching faith and morals,” wrote Pell.

Someone call the pope.


Graham Readfearn

The GuardianTramp

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