Beware South Australia, Tesla has you in its sights

Opinion Piece by Federal Senator for South Australia, Cory Bernardi.


This week the monorail salesman from The Simpsons paid a visit to South Australia. Only this time he was selling giant uneconomic batteries instead of shooting people through vacuum-tubes.

His name is Elon Musk and he runs businesses that depend on huge taxpayer subsidies to function. In fact the three businesses he runs have received around $5 billion in US government largesse.

Now he’s set his sights on the Aussie taxpayer and our hapless leaders are falling over themselves to tweet and chat with him.

Why wouldn’t they? After all, he was in Iron Man and the lefties love him so imagine the levels of green cred a pollie can generate just from chilling with Elon.

But hanging with Elon is very expensive for any government. In fact it’s a textbook example of crony capitalism and everything that’s wrong with it.

Let’s consider his main business: Tesla cars.

As a startup in 2008, Tesla needed around $500 million. Elon Musk lent the company $38 million at a 10% interest rate and got another $465 million from the US government at a 3% interest rate. Musk also got stock options that generated a $1.4 billion profit while the government eventually tipped in another $4.5 billion to finance Tesla’s operations.

Tesla still loses money, doesn’t meet its production commitments and every car is subsidised by thousands of taxpayer dollars.

Musk went on to create two more companies, SpaceX which will provide future services related to satellite launches. SpaceX customers have prepaid so technically it makes money albeit from payments for services not provided.

Solar Cities is his other company which makes and leases solar panels to home owners. It loses money.

All three companies get concessional government loans and thanks to intra-company loans, they are only going concerns because of the inflated value of the Tesla stock price (and government subsidies).

Now Musk has promised to solve the political crisis in South Australia caused by a lack of electricity.

Unfortunately, Musk’s numbers and promises don’t stack up but the SA and federal governments are already taking the bait.

After years of peddling fanciful green dreams and endorsing windmills and solar panels as the answer to our growing energy needs, they are close to admitting defeat.

SA Premier Weatherill yesterday commissioned a new gas power plant and ‘battery storage’. While the proposed power plant isn’t big enough, if it does run out of juice I calculate that Musk’s batteries will provide several minutes’ worth of power before needing a recharge!

All up, State Labor’s plan costs taxpayers $550 million, which is a half billion dollar admission of government failure. However, as a shameless political fix I expect it will propel Labor to their 20th continuous year in office.

The South Australian government will be seen to be doing something whilst the SA opposition have been enjoying too many long lunches during their 16 years in opposition. They too fell for the hysteria and hype of renewable energy and refused to stand up for the interests of South Australians.

It was a gross failure of leadership for the SA Liberals and it will likely cost them the next election.

However, despite the cunning of Labor’s new announcement, it will not solve the SA energy emergency. It is too little and much too late.
The only thing that will solve South Australia’s and the nation’s energy woes is to stop the subsidies and let the most cost-efficient and effective baseload power be generated.

It means we must stop the irrational ideological campaign against using our bountiful resources and ensure that we value add to our beautiful black coal deposits.

If we are digging it up for export then surely we can use it ourselves to generate the cheapest, most reliable electricity in the world. That would do more to kick-start our economy and strengthen our manufacturing industry than anything else.

An aside would be that taxpayers would also be able to leave the lights on when they need them the most.

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Cory Bernardi


Senator Cory Bernardi represents South Australia in the Australian Senate and is the leader of the Australian Conservatives. 

59 Comments on "Beware South Australia, Tesla has you in its sights"

  1. The rent-seeker’s rent seeker. A bigger sponge than the yartz.

  2. He is going to walk out of Australia with a lot more money than when he comes here.

    Another example of regulations resulting in the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich along with plenty of photo ops for politicians. A hero for some for bizarre reason.

  3. He could see Jay and Tom coming, and he was rubbing his hands with glee.

    • I can’t believe they are both so dumb. Tesla’s ‘saviour’ batteries will only supply a mere 3% of SA’s power requirements during high power demand periods, for a relatively short time! They are being conned again and guess who’ll be paying for it?

  4. To be fair, isn’t a huge chunk of that figure made up of NASA contracts?

    I mean, there’s a legitimate question of what involvement the government should have in space, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely honest to portray bidding for a contract to be exactly the same as a subsidy.

  5. At least he is a doer, not a political dribbler 🙂

  6. There are better and cheaper battery types and makers..Australian ones as well

  7. Here we have another SCAMMER with hoax product to sell to the IGNORANT government to fleece the taxpayers. Instead we need to back Alex Epstine author of “The Moral case for Fossil Fuel” and also put an end to the Climate change hoax.

  8. Cory Bernardi….another do nothing politician.. What a waste of time most of them are… The Liberal Party have wasted this nation’s wealth and now we find ourselves in this mess….

  9. Gina Rinehart is suing the Victorian Government for banning fracking. Where are your words about that? Military suppliers use the Australian War Memorial as a venue to sell product. Where are your words about that?

  10. Better to subsidise green tech than than the coal and gas industry

  11. The money men know what he’s up to even if most of our politicians don’t. “He definitely goes where there is government money,” said Dan Dolev, an analyst at Jefferies Equity Research. “That’s a great strategy, but the government will cut you off one day.”
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hy-musk-subsidies-20150531-story.html

    • Ralf Kluin make a valid argument Ralf, otherwise you have no credibility.

    • We’ll make your point then instead throwing insults.

    • Perhaps you can point out how? Just accusing us isn’t an argument.

    • We all know what an entrepreneur is Ralf. And your point?

    • Sorry that you see it that way Ralf. We would love nothing more than to have our electricity issues solved. We just disagree on the best way for that to happen. Doesn’t make us frauds though. Can you point out anything we have said that is fraudulent?

    • When Tesla sells a product to politicians they pay out of their own pocket, rather than the taxpayers then no one will have a problem, besides perhaps their family and bank manager.

      The issue is a Tesla has a history of getting by with subsidy from the US taxpayer. The company had not made a dollar offering a product a consumer will buy without Uncle Sam chipping in using cash collected from those who can’t afford to but 40k of 100k cars.

      It seems Tesla is wearing outs welcome in the USA as more realise it’s a taker, not a maker. So the company is turning its sights to Australia, more specifically South Australia that has a government grasping at straws spending other people’s money like a drunken sailor in a desperate attempt to be seen as doing something.

      Tesla along with all the other hairbrained schemes are going to bankrupt the SA government to the detriment of the good people of SA. Of course those who love the idea of batteries will praise hundreds of millions of dollars flowing over to the USA to buy a product with limited use and even shorter shelf life.

      They better start digging a big hole down there so they can get rid of a few thousand toxic batteries once they can’t hold a charge.

    • Calling us frauds is inflammatory language. Why not just try saying ‘wrong’, and on that standing we can have a proper conversation. Agreed?

      Of course taxpayers had better watch out. $550 million of their dollars are being spent on their behalf and given to an entrepreneur who relies on government funding to keep his enterprises afloat.

    • What lie and fraud is perpetuated?

    • Ha ha, wonder why that is?
      “Continue to debate” you haven’t even started.

    • I guess Ralf believes it’s a lie to believe the SA government can’t negotiate competently with Tesla. Time will tell if this is true or false. However based on the track record of two tiers of Government when it comes to energy in Australia, it does not exactly inspire confidence.

      This plus how Tesla coming here to save us from politician policy stuff ups is akin to the second coming of Christ doesn’t really bode well for the tax payers & electricity consumers of Australia.

  12. Adani’s looking for a billion dollars from taxpayers for Carmichael. Where are your words on that?

  13. The truth is other companies have offered to build the same infrastructure in SA as Musk for the same price. It’s just that Musk is more interesting than those other Orgs. if you want to worry about a piddling 5B subsidy go have a look at the money we give every year to countries that hate us like the Malaysians and Indonesians.

  14. BS the last dying breathe of the fossil fuel industry

    • Until aeroplanes stop flying the fossil fuel industry will keep going unless someone works out a way to keep planes in the air without burning fossil fuels. Right now there is no alternative to fuelling aeroplanes with anything but fossil fuels unless we get something like a space platform network going that allows trains to move around the world on a network of wires going up to space & back crisscrossing the Earth

    • It’s amazing that we can be so bloody stupid, and not realise when we’re being conned. This is one of the best examples of the Hegelian Dialectic in action. Create the problem, Manage the Reaction, then Provide the prepared solution at great taxpayer expense! Absolutely brilliant execution, and most greenies are so blind to the scam that they’ll fight to the death to defend Musk’s totally corrupt business model. Who was it who said, “It’s difficult to free fools from the chains they revere?” Votaire?

    • Americans are masters of business.

  15. Who would quote cori bernadi???

  16. Talking to him means jack, no one has committed anything to Tesla. If you were serious about preventing scammers you’d go after those who really do suck us tax payers dry, like BHP, Rio, Glencore, Woodside and the rest #youarephony

    • You do realise that the resources sector pays billions of dollars in tax and royalties don’t you? The mining industry are net tax payers as well as employing thousands of Australians. What planet are you on?

    • LibertyWorks you do realise the ATO is constantly trying to collect tax from all these companies for the profits they shift offshore without having paid tax on it? Thanks for confirming your close relationship with them.

    • Close relationship, funny. About as close as yours if you drive a car, are connected to the grid, use plastics and technology.

      We don’t advocate for any particular form of energy but support all forms operating in a free energy market.

    • LibertyWorks – that would mean being supportive if Tesla wins the tender to supply SA with some of its battery storage. You’ve got a funny way of showing support for the free market by slamming a potential tenderer.

    • …or maybe jealous that Elon didn’t text David?

    • A free market generally does not involve government participation. In a true free market Elon Musk would invest in battery storage in SA, putting his own money at risk, not that of the SA taxpayers.

    • That I can agree with you on, when the market is big enough to carry multiple operators. Our energy market for the past 20 years has not been successful – no one building infrastructure, no new power plants except a few renewables, prices increasing. No wonder Weatherill had to intervene against the free marketeers who have shown themselves to be price gougers leading us to a situation where energy security is threadbare. Good luck convincing the electorate that the free market will sort it out anytime soon.

  17. Elon Musk = Charleton . con man rip off merchant !!

  18. Of course he does ??? !!

  19. Come to Australia our politicians and business dont care

  20. Trump will withdraw funding so Musk needs to find other stupid and gullible governments and taxpayers to give him money. We have no shortage of stupid and gullible people or borrowed money in Australia.

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