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Fuel-efficiency standards for new cars pass lower house

Andrew BrownAAP
The federal government wants to reduce emissions from passenger cars 61 per cent by 2029. (Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconThe federal government wants to reduce emissions from passenger cars 61 per cent by 2029. (Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

New cars sold in Australia could be required to meet improved emissions standards from 2025, after fuel-efficiency laws passed the House of Representatives.

The lower house passed the legislation on Thursday, setting up a Senate showdown on the regulations, with the opposition warning the proposal would increase the cost of vehicles for consumers.

Under the laws, the government will seek to reduce emissions for passenger cars by 61 per cent by 2029, while emission cuts for light commercial vehicles such as utes will be 35 per cent.

The government said the changes were overdue given light vehicles produce 11 per cent of carbon emissions, and the standards would help meet targets of a 43 per cent cut in total emissions by 2030.

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Transport Minister Catherine King said Australia had been behind the rest of the world in implementing fuel standards on vehicles.

"We have stood alongside Russia as one of the only advanced economies that does not have a fuel efficiency standard," she told parliament on Thursday.

"Consumers in Australia are not getting the benefits of the most efficient vehicles, whether they be petrol vehicles, whether they be hybrid vehicles or diesel vehicles."

Penalties and credits under the standard will not apply until July 2025, six months after the law comes into effect, and a $60 million fund will be established for electric vehicle chargers in car dealerships.

However, the government came under fire from the opposition and crossbench MPs amid accusations it was attempting to ram through the laws in parliament without debate.

Independent MP Zoe Daniel backed the legislation but hit out at the way it was passed.

"The government has gagged debate on the new vehicle efficiency standards and is pushing the bill through with no speeches, no debate," she said on the social media platform X.

"I support this bill wholeheartedly, but this is a complete abuse of process. Do better."

Ms King told parliament the laws would help Australia reach its emissions-reductions targets.

"It's an important measure to make sure that regional areas get the fuel savings that are desperately needed," she said.

"This bill is very much part of making sure that people in regional Australia get the benefit of fuel-efficient cars."

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