Toyota distances itself from Liberal ads falsely claiming Labor wants to tax cars

targeted liberal party facebook ads falsely claim bill shorten wants to tax popular car brands
Targeted Liberal party Facebook ads falsely claim Bill Shorten wants to tax popular car brands. Photograph: Facebook

The ads use Facebook functionality to target users with an interest in particular car brands, including Toyota Hilux utes

— Toyota has said that it was not consulted on a Liberal party campaign that uses targeted Facebook ads to falsely claim Bill Shorten wants to tax popular car brands including the Toyota Hilux and other utility vehicles.

“Toyota Australia were not consulted on the use of the HiLux in government materials.”

The ads – which appeared on Monday – use Facebook ad functionality to target users with an interest in particular vehicle types to make the false claim about Labor’s policy, which includes vehicle emissions standards and a target of 50% of new car sales being electric vehicles by 2030.

The Japanese carmaker also said it was on track with global plans to electrify the entire vehicle line up by 2025.

The Coalition is stepping up its attack despite the fact the treasurer and former environment minister Josh Frydenberg has spruiked electric vehicles on the basis they will save drivers money and that vehicle emissions standards are still part of the government’s plan to reduce emissions.

The ads, posted by the Liberal party’s official account, state that “Labor’s car tax would mean higher prices on some of Australia’s most popular cars” and encourage users to “sign up to stop Labor’s car tax”.

Labor’s electric vehicle policy, released earlier in April, includes only one tax-related measure – a deduction of 20% depreciation for businesses which buy electric vehicles worth more than $20,000.

The imposition of an emissions standard of 105g CO2/km for light vehicles is not a tax because it does not raise any revenue for the government.

In fact, the uptake of electric vehicles is estimated to cost the budget more than $1bn a year by 2030 in lost fuel excise, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The Facebook ads target users who have indicate their interest in popular car brands including Holdens, Ford Rangers, Toyota Hiluxes and Mitsubishi Tritons.

 

The ads do not contain detailed authorisations, although the Australian Electoral Commission has told Guardian Australia that ads meet their standards if details are posted in the “about” section of the posting page.

Other ads on the Liberal party Facebook page suggest that emissions standards “will add up to $4,863 to the cost of a new car”, citing a 2016 report by the Centre for International Economics.

An infrastructure department report published in December 2016 estimated that a 105g CO2/km emissions standard phased in from 2020 to 2025 will save $27.5bn in fuel costs and achieve $2.7bn worth of greenhouse gas abatement, for a total $30.1bn saving. It estimated a total cost of $16.2bn to achieve the standard, for a total net benefit of $13.9bn.

As recently as August 2017 Frydenberg said vehicle efficiency standards were about “reducing fuel costs and carbon emissions at the same time”.

“In Australia in 2016 the average amount of CO2 emitted per kilometre was 182 grams, while the EU is moving to 100g/km by 2021, and in the US the target is 105g/km by 2025,” he said.

Frydenberg said if Australia had fuel efficiency standards in line with comparable nations, “estimates of the fuel saving per passenger vehicle could be above $500 per year, or nearly $28bn in total by 2040”.

“Given the long distances travelled in regional Australia, the savings could be even greater for people living outside the main cities.”

The environment department website states the the emissions reduction fund – the centrepiece of the Coalition’s climate change policy – will provide “support for the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency [and] vehicle emission standards”.

On Sunday Scott Morrison accused Shorten of wanting to “end the weekend” because the electric vehicles would hurt “Australians who love being out there in their four-wheel drives”.

The Coalition was elected under Tony Abbott in 2013 with a fierce campaign against the Labor government’s price on carbon, which it labelled a carbon tax.

In 2017 Abbott’s former chief of staff, Peta Credlin, admitted “it wasn’t a carbon tax … it was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax”.

“We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment,” she told Sky News. “That was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and when he cut through, Gillard was gone.”


by Paul Karp, Nick Evershed | The Guardian

 

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