Mike Cannon-Brookes says the Coalition has tied itself in knots over Labor’s electric vehicles policy and that the 50% target for electric vehicle sales by 2030 is “very achievable” and not ambitious.
The billionaire co-founder and chief executive of Australian software company Atlassian is announcing on Wednesday the company will become 100% renewable by 2025.
Atlassian is the third Australian company, and first tech company, to make the pledge as part of the RE100, a global initiative to get big corporations to commit to 100% renewable electricity.
“Australia has the highest household solar take-up in the world. So households, you would argue, are doing their bit,” Cannon-Brookes said.
“I think Australian corporations could be doing more to set great examples … so we hope to start a bit of a trend there and set an example as an Australian company.”
Cannon-Brookes has a huge social media following and has used that profile to take Australian political parties to task on matters related to energy policy and cutting carbon pollution. He famously prompted Tesla boss Elon Musk in a Twitter exchange to promise he could build a 100MW battery for South Australia’s power network in 100 days or he would deliver it free. Last week, Cannon-Brookes defended Labor’s EV proposal in the face of a Coalition campaign against it.
Scott Morrison had tried to attack Labor’s policy by claiming “Bill Shorten wants to end the weekend” for Australians who love four-wheel drives. But the government’s own modelling for how it will achieve its obligations under the Paris agreement assume a similar target and the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, spoke enthusiastically about EVs when he was the environment minister.
“The last few days we’ve seen the Liberal party tying themselves in knots on EVs,” Cannon-Brookes said.
“Six months ago and 12 months ago they were highly supportive and today they’re not and their press releases from five months ago look really silly.
“Fifty per cent by 2030 is not ambitious. I think that will be very achievable…Most of the automakers are charging hard in this direction.”
Cannon-Brookes likened Morrison’s weekend remarks to past comments by Barnaby Joyce that inaccurately claimed Labor’s carbon price would push the price of a lamb roast to $100.
He said the government’s sudden attacks also weakened the appearance of the work it had done in this area by investing millions to build a rapid charging network for electric vehicles.
“That’s taxpayer money, so either the taxpayer money was wasted or it was sensibly spent and we have a charging network. You can’t have it both ways.”
Cannon-Brookes said the science and economics of taking action on climate change were aligned and he expected that after Australia’s summer of natural disasters it would be a dominant issue for voters in May.
He said Labor’s climate policy, including its 45% emissions reduction target, “is a pretty sensible package. I don’t think it’s ambitious but it’s certainly a very good step forward for a major party.”
But he thought any government needed to develop a policy to reach net zero emissions, with clear steps for how to get there over time.
“I do think there’s a lot of climate anger out there. I think it will be a heavily climate-dominated election,” he said. “It’s not an issue that’s going to turn around the other way.”
Atlassian has 10 offices it will need to make fully renewable to reach its 100% target. Some of its offices, such as its Mountain View office in California, are already there.
Cannon-Brookes said the company would also look at energy use in some of its indirect operations, such as its cloud data centres.
“We’ve done all the maths and we think we can get there across all our sites by 2025, that’s why we’ve put the target and we’re going to make it,” he said.