Jacinda Ardern is not the only trying to pull a swifty over electric cars versus utes.

Notoriously, Ardern is trying to subsidise luxury EV cars for wealthy people at the expense of tradies and ordinary car-owners. Which is exactly what her dewy-eyed fans across the ditch at Australia’s ABC apparently want. And they’ll peddle the most outrageous porkies to try and get it.

Their ABC’s Alan Kohler really should know better — but then again, he’s so misty-eyed about the fantasy of useless renewable energy, he actually might not.

Anyone who’s ever tried to engage a Greta Thunberg fan in a fact-based debate will know that, when it comes to renewable energy, hard fact runs a very distant second to wishful thinking that would make Pollyanna scoff.

On Sunday’s prime-time ABC-TV news, there he was contrasting and explicitly attacking the government’s apparent multi-billion dollar subsidies for gas-guzzling and (my words, his implication) planet-destroying utes and its refusal to provide any subsidies for (my words again, his implication again) planet-saving electric cars.

After running a clip of minister Angus Taylor rejecting any subsidies for luxury cars, Kohler’s closing comment was: “but subsidies for diesel utes? No problem”.

This is the same line of argument you continually hear from the worshippers of “renewables”. I’ve only recently heard green zealots insist furiously that solar receives no subsidies in Australia (in fact, it receives billions every year) while asserting that the government “subsidises coal” (it doesn’t).

Kohler is playing a shifty game of pea-and-shells. The government doesn’t “subsidise diesel utes”: it provides business tax breaks for all commercial vehicles.

That basic characterisation was completely false. The government has not put in place a subsidy specifically for diesel utes or even utes and SUVs generally and specifically excluded electric cars.

If a business buys an electric ute it would get exactly the same ‘subsidy’ as a business — and only a business — gets in buying a diesel ute.

Here’s where it gets worse, though: the tax break isn’t a fixed amount, it’s a percentage.

In fact it would get a bigger dollar “subsidy” because an electric ute would cost more, much more, than its diesel equivalent.

Ah, but there aren’t any electric utes, although they are supposedly coming, very expensively[…]

Buy a $70k Kona electric and you can get a $17,500 “Kohler subsidy” if you are a 25 per cent small biz taxpayer.

That’s double the $8750 “subsidy” on buying the $35k petrol version.

So will businesses rush to buy luxury EVs, just to cash in on the bigger tax break?

Hmm, makes sense. Not. You get the bigger “subsidy” but are still out of pocket a net $52.5k as opposed to $26.25k.

To make Kohler’s deception even worse, the tax break isn’t even specifically for vehicles (petrol, diesel or electric): it’s for all capital items.

None of this is a subsidy; it’s just the bring-forward of an everyday tax deduction for business on all purchases of capital items, not just diesel utes or SUVs, diesel, petrol or electric.

You also get it for office machines, furniture, computers, telephones, any plant and equipment that’s tax-deductible depreciable.

You, simply, get to write any of these purchases off upfront at 100 per cent, instead of having to do it over four or five years. You don’t get to write off more, only quicker.

This was done deliberately by the government to boost the economy. Yes, it costs the budget bigtime right now — nearly $50bn out to 2024-25 — but’s that’s exactly the point. It’s to boost business cash flows and to encourage them to spend.

Ultimately, what really seems to irk deep-green zealots like Kohler and Ardern is that people really, really like SUVs.

By far the great majority of SUVs bought — and there are twice as many SUVs sold as utes and vans combined — are by ordinary consumers who don’t get a tax write-off.

It’s not exactly a mystery why Ford and Holden went down and out. Just about everyone was answering the question: have you driven a Ford (and Holden) car lately, with a big no.

Exactly the same goes for Kohler’s electric cars. Given the – equally subsidised or unsubsidised — choice, tradies buy non-electric SUVs.

The Australian

It’s almost like they don’t care about climate change.

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Another Green Zealot Tries to Bullshit about EVs and Utes
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Lushington D. Brady

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In last decade or...