I met Matthew Henley at the Logan EV event, where he instantly got my attention by saying that he had taken some prominent politicians for rides in his Tesla Model S in 2019. He chose the Tesla over a Porsche Cayman after a short test drive. They were the same price, but the Tesla had the better technology, practicality, and performance.
Matthew is lobbying politicians from all parties to put in more electric vehicle chargers. He has met with local state MPs, federal MPs, and council aldermen.
One of these is local Member of Parliament Luke Howarth (Liberal National Party, Petrie). “Luke has a V8 commodore and I nagged him until he came for a drive in my Model S 2 years ago. I like to emphasize the fun. I showed him the tech and put him in the driver’s seat.
“‘Does it have enough go?’ he asked as we waited for a gap in the traffic.
“‘Think of it as your car but faster,’ I told him.
“‘Ha, ha, mine’s got a V8!’ He was gentle with the car at first, with encouragement he gunned it (to the speed limit) and was shocked by the performance.”
Another Member of Parliament, Amanda Stoker (Liberal National Party, Senator for Queensland), says Luke has been converted, as he keeps posting about electric cars in their LNP group chat.
Andrew Hastie (Assistant Minister for Defense, Canning, Western Australia) told Matthew: “You have softened me on EVs,” he said. After an event in Redcliffe Queensland, Matthew talked Andrew (with Luke’s help) into travelling to the next event — 15 km away at Bracken Ridge — in his Tesla Model S. Andrew was very skeptical at first. He drove the car carefully but expressed a great deal of interest in the technology.
What convinced him was when Matthew got him to stop dead on an empty road, then punch the accelerator, taking the car up to the 70 km/h speed limit. Andrew said it was like a joyride he once took in an RAAF trainer — similar feeling of acceleration.
So, how do we get conservative politicians to try electric cars? Matthew tells me we need to build a relationship, to target what interests them and don’t make it just about the environment. Luke is a car guy, so he used that to lure him into a test drive — from there he was hooked. EV advocates need to contact their local politicians from all sides of politics and take them for a drive. With many people doing that, we will see more support and therefore access to EVs.
In my humble opinion, part of the reality we are dealing with is the fact that EVs have been politicized by the conservative party in Australia (just like they have in the US). So, unless the senior politicians in the party (like the Prime Minister for example) stop vilifying EVs, it is unlikely that other party members will be able to publicly express a positive view.
However, the times are changing, and hopefully 2022 will be the year that the closet, EV-loving conservative set can declare themselves.
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