Tech Billionaire Takes Fight to Australian Government on Renewables

(Bloomberg) -- Australian tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes has embarked on a Twitter crusade to redefine what Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls “fair dinkum” power, saying the government should drop its support for coal and do more to back renewables.

“Fair dinkum Aussie power is green, it’s leafy, it’s bright. There’s wind, there’s sun ... you get the idea,” Cannon-Brookes tweeted earlier this week to kick off a social media offensive against the government’s lack of action to promote cleaner energy sources.

Tech Billionaire Takes Fight to Australian Government on Renewables

For those not well versed in the Aussie vernacular, “fair dinkum” is an old-fashioned term used to stress when something is real or genuine. For Cannon-Brookes, who made his fortune co-founding the Atlassian tech business, Morrison’s use of the term to refer to traditional fossil-fuel generation is not only misleading, it’s just plain wrong.

“Scott Morrison you’ve made me mad and inspired me,” Cannon-Brookes tweeted. “We need a movement. We need a brand for Australia’s energy future.”

Morrison became prime minister back in August after a backlash inside the ruling conservative Liberal Party against former premier Malcolm Turnbull’s energy policy, which included modest carbon emission reduction targets.

The policy was dropped and Morrison, an ardent advocate of the coal industry, was quick to reframe the government’s energy stance to focus on lower power bills.

“Renewables are great. But we’re also needing the reliable power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. That’s what keeps the lights on,” Morrison said in a Facebook video post last month.

It’s not the first time Cannon-Brookes has engaged in the energy debate in Australia. In 2017, he challenged Tesla founder Elon Musk over Twitter to install 100 megawatts of battery power within 100 days to help solve an energy crisis in South Australia state. Musk took him up on the offer and won the bet.

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