Why zap ratepayers for electric car zip

THE Adelaide City Council plans to install 40 electric vehicle- charging stations in the city by June 30, 2018, and has now approved the early stages of rolling out that feel-good plan. What’s the problem with that, I hear you say? Well, for starters, there are a grand total of just over 350 plug-in electric vehicles registered in SA.

Who knows how many electric vehicles are registered at city addresses, or in the surrounding suburbs. However, at this rate there are just over eight users per station for all of the electric cars in the state. Official sales figures also reveal that only 219 electric vehicles were sold Australia-wide in 2016. That’s 0.0018 per cent of the total car market.

A great big drop in the ocean. In addition to those practical matters, it remains completely unclear why it is the responsibility of the ratepayers of the City of Adelaide to fill up the fuel tanks of electric vehicle drivers. Why isn’t this something which the free market would address?

If the future for electric vehicles was so bright, then the private sector would be installing these stations across the city and surrounding suburbs as we speak. It is not the role of local government to try to convince people of the need to make the switch to electric vehicles. We have far too many roads which remain in desperate need of repair for that indulgence.

The fact remains that when it comes to fiscal responsibility and addressing the challenges of obsolescence, the private sector does it far better. Yet despite loud protests from myself and Councillor Anne Moran, the installation of 40 electric vehicle charging stations now joins a chorus line of trendy initiatives disguised as green projects in the City of Adelaide. The patience of city ratepayers is constantly being tried by fanciful projects masquerading behind the veil of sustainability.

The $400,000 renovation of the Council’s offices on Pirie St comes to mind. Around $150,000 of that spend went towards the construction of a “green wall” (which in layman’s terms is a series of plants growing in expensive planter boxes on a wall in a rather unnatural way).

I have shouted until I am blue in the face about the merits of planting trees, and thankfully Council has now set about planting thousands of new trees around the city’s streets.

Not the sort of project you will find people writing about on treehugger.com but a cheap, attractive and effective way to green a street while also increasing property values.

Responsible government means never confusing trendy projects with green projects, and being environmentally friendly does not always mean spending other people’s money to enact the last fashionable project you saw people gushing over in an internet forum.