NSW consigns FleetWise to scrap heap

By Paul Hemsley

New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell’s campaign against so-called green-tape has resulted in the state government’s FleetWise program being junked on the basis it duplicates a similar federal program that is already operating.

Funded by the state government through the Environment Trust, the FleetWise program had been a source of information, tools and support to reduce pollution emissions in government and private fleets.

However the state government has scrubbed the program because of similarities to the federal Energy Efficiency Information Grants Program (EEIGP) worth $40 million.

The culling of FleetWise came as the NSW premier announced a raft of other programs being shuttered in the name of efficiency.

“The NSW Government has axed another nine green schemes, and will reform three others,” Mr O’Farrell said.

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) launched the EEIGP in February 2012 as part of the Commonwealth Government Clean Energy Future Package.

The EEIGP is a program meant to provide funds to organisations and give them information about how to reduce their environmental impact.

Agencies and bodies in NSW that previously relied on FleetWise to provide information about fleet sustainability will likely now depend on the federal scheme for similar support.

Mr O’Farrell presented the green tape cuts at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting last Friday to show the NSW government’s movement in energy reform as part of an agenda to abolish sustainability-related regulations.

The NSW government claims cutting programs such as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme and freezing transmission revenue for state-owned electricity distributor Transgrid’s will provide relief for citizens and businesses under pressure from rising electricity bills.

Mr O’Farrell will chop other green-related programs including the Energy Savings Funds Grants, Green Business Grants, Public Facilities Grants, Renewable Energy Development Grants, Schools Energy Efficiency Grants and the hybrid bus trial.

The NSW government’s green purge has coincided with federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation Penny Wong’s announcement that SG Fleet Australia has been selected as the source of advice for vehicle fleet management and leasing services for the Australian government.

SG Fleet was awarded the six-and-a-half year contract to help federal government agencies select environmentally friendly cars for its fleet to be in line with the Fleet Vehicle Selection Policy.

Meanwhile the Victorian Government operates its own FleetWise program. The NSW and Victorian programs were both developed by a third party called Rare Consulting, which helps clients implement sustainable fleet strategies.

The demise of the NSW FleetWise will not affect the operation of the Victorian version.

Victorian Department of Transport project manager of low emission vehicles Kristian Handberg said the federal program is targeted at large energy consumers.

Mr Handberg told Government News that the federal program is a mechanism designed to require large fleet operators to investigate and implement energy efficiency “opportunities” if they have gone over a certain energy threshold.

However the state FleetWise program doesn’t require anyone to participate because it’s a voluntary program and helps small to medium enterprises identify and implement energy efficient results, Mr Handberg said.

Fleet management professionals are taking the latest ructions in their stride. Australasian Fleet Management Association research and communications director, Ken Thompson, feels that his national group may stand to benefit from the rationalisations.

“I do think that if you’ve got a program that’s running at a national level, one would think that would have advantages over state based programs,” Mr Thompson said.

“If people want information about fleet management, AFMA is the place to be.”

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