The Government and Opposition have combined to vote down a Senate Inquiry into vehicle fuel efficiency standards moved by the Australian Greens today.
"The Labor and Liberal lowest common denominator approach on fuel efficiency standards should be very worrying to Australians concerned about petrol prices," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
In the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee negotiations towards the carbon price agreement, the government agreed to a public consultation process before announcing vehicle fuel efficiency standards. The release of a discussion paper last month is the first step and a Senate Inquiry would have effectively informed Senators during the process.
"How much Australians pay for transport, how much pollution comes from our transport sector, and the future of Australia's car industry all depend on getting this decision right.
"Europe, America and Asia are all moving to much stricter standards and Australia risks being locked into gas-guzzling cars and manufacturing vehicles that nobody can afford to run.
"The scenarios presented in the government's paper are too lax. We need greater ambition or we will be left behind.
"Europe, for example has a 2020 CO2 target of 95g/km, whereas the most stringent scenario considered in the discussion paper is 141g/km.
"With peak oil driving petrol prices through the roof, we really need to help Australians get into more efficient - ultimately plug-in electric - cars, but the standards that the government is still contemplating would effectively lock us into business-as-usual incremental efficiency gains.
"There has been very little publicity for the discussion paper. A Senate Inquiry would have helped drive public engagement and given Senators the opportunity to be fully informed on the issue before anything is locked in."