Press conference with Hon Catherine King, Minister for Infrastructure, Regional Development and Local Government, Sydney, NSW

CHRIS BOWEN: Well, thanks for coming everyone. I'm delighted to be here with my friend Catherine King, the Minister for Transport, and Rohan Lund, the Chief Executive of the NRMA.

Well yesterday of course Catherine and I released the government's preferred position for the new vehicle efficiency standard. A reform that is long overdue. It should have been done a decade or so ago and was done in other countries many, many years ago, including the United States 50 years ago or so.

This is a reform at its heart about choice. Giving Australian motorists and consumers more options, more choices, for better, cheaper to run, more efficient cars. This is, as I said, long overdue. Australians deserve the best, including access to the best cars and they're currently missing out.

When it comes to EVs and hybrids there are 150 models or more available in the United States and New Zealand but under 100 available in Australia.

When it comes to petrol cars there are many, many efficient options that aren't available in Australia as well. Take the Mazda CX30. The model available in the United Kingdom is 25 per cent more fuel efficient than the model available here in Australia. So Australians are missing out on savings at the bowser regardless of what sort of car they choose.

And of course also Australian cars are emitting more into the environment and emitting particulates and pollution which is having an impact on the health of Australians as well.

So this is a reform that Catherine and I are very proud of and very pleased to be arguing for, and we will argue for in the Parliament.

Now we know and understand that there will be people with genuine concerns and genuine issues that they'll want questions answered on, and certainly Catherine and I will continue to do that.

There'll also be the very predictable scare campaign. We've seen today people talking about utes. We've heard this before in 2019. I’ll just make a couple of points.

Firstly, these reforms, these standards will apply across an average, across a fleet. Car companies can continue to import any particular model they wish. They must meet a standard across their entire fleet. No model will be mandatory. No model will be banned.

Utes, as anybody who knows who visits America or watches American sitcoms or detective dramas knows, Americans like big cars. The pick up truck is very popular in the United States. They've had fuel efficiency standards since the 1970s.

Utes are popular in many countries around the world that have vehicle efficiency standards and they'll continue to be popular, I have no doubt, in Australia as well.

And of course under the model that Catherine and I have released, we have an average required for passenger vehicles and a separate average for light commercial vehicles, recognising the needs of tradies and small business people are different to your average mum and dad.

We thought that through in our deep collaboration and consultation over the last 12 months and we're confident with the model we have right.

Now just before I ask Catherine and then Rohan to add a few remarks, I'm delighted to be here with Rohan. The NRMA has represented Australian motorists for 104 years, standing up for Australian motorists.

I have a soft spot, full disclosure, for the NRMA. My dad worked for NRMA Road Service for 30 years. So it's an organisation I know deeply and very proud of that connection. 30 years helping people at all times of the day and night. Dad worked the midnight shift, from 11 pm to 7 am helping people whose cars had broken down. So I know very much how deeply the concerns and interests of motorists are embedded in the interests of the NRMA so I'm delighted that Rohan has joined us today.

I'll ask Catherine to add a few remarks, then Rohan, and then we'll take it from there.

CATHERINE KING: Thanks very much Chris and thanks very much Rohan for being here with us today, and 104 years of history with the NRMA, it's great to have you here speaking about the benefits for motorists of the new vehicle efficiency standards.

Well of course we know here in Australia we don't have the most efficient vehicles that we could have. We've got vehicles that are sold in the US that are not sold here. Vehicles that are sold in the European Union that are not sold here. We've got 40 per cent less efficient vehicles compared to the European Union, 20 per cent less efficient vehicles than are sold in the US.

And what's the difference? The difference is both of those markets have had efficiency standards for new vehicles for a long period of time. Even China has efficiency standards, making sure that they are getting the benefit of the most efficient cars.

This is of course all about choice for consumers, making sure that people have the choice to have the most efficient vehicles in our marketplace available to buy when you're wanting to purchase a new vehicle. And that's really good for consumers and consumers' hip pocket, making sure that we're getting those fuel savings as best we possibly can.

We know that by 2028 this will save average consumers on each vehicle each year over $1,000. That's an enormous amount of savings. It's good for your hip pocket, good for the environment, certainly good for human health, and also good for fuel security in this country as well.

We also know, and I'm a regional Australian, I've lived there for a long period of time, I know how important it is that we are able to get access to the most efficient vehicles. This is about making sure that regional Australians, tradies driving their utes, still get access to the choices that they want to have but also that we're providing everyone opportunity for regional Australians to get those standards.

Now as I said yesterday I expect there'll be a bit of a scare campaign. I've seen a bit of a run out at that yesterday and we'll continue to see that I suspect in the days to come.

Again, this standard applies to new vehicles only. It doesn't ban utes; it doesn't mean that you won't be able to access your beloved SUV that you like. What it does is it actually means there will be more choice. More choice for you to be able to decide which car is right for you and your family and for the job that you need it to do, and making those fuel savings as we go along.

This is long overdue. China's got them. Japan's got them. The US has them. It's well and truly time that Australia joined those markets in making sure we get the best cars we possibly can.

And I'll hand over to Rohan.

ROHAN LUND: Thank you Ministers. The NRMA welcomes these standards. I think it was only Russia who was the last other market with us that hasn't introduced them. And choice is what the NRMA has always been about and that's the real virtue of this, that I see as giving Australians choice.

And right now at the bowser we want to have choice and anything we can do to get prices down, to consuming less fuel for our members, that's important for the NRMA.

We're very appreciative that there's a review period that’s in place, so in 2026 if things aren't working, if there's new data we can look at, that's available.

So again, we welcome the standards. It's time everyone had choice, and this will make a huge difference for all of our members.