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. 

197 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.

  21. Ya all gotta admit the national narrative has changed a tad tecently

  22. bernardi is a freemason TRAITOR anyway, cant trust a word he says

  23. Welfare Entrepreneurship is now the Western norm – governments love it because it makes politicians look good and entrepreneurs love it because it de-risks being ‘entrepreneurial’ with yours and my money. What’s not to love about it?

  24. Ummm the fossil fuel industry receives more than that in subsidies and they have been in business since the late 1800’s so this argument is invalid.

  25. Elon Musk did borrow money off the US Government to support Tesla. That money was repaid, in full, nine years early, and Tesla paid interest on the loan, so as a matter of fact, the US taxpayers made a profit on that loan.

  26. Musk, who is fully venturing into the renewable energy sector with his proposed SolarCity merger, also brought up the enormous subsidies the coal industry receives. He suggested that both companies compete without any taxpayer help.
    http://www.ecowatch.com/elon-musk-murray-subsidies-2039592767.html

  27. http://fortune.com/2016/02/22/elon-musk-koch-brothers-twitter/
    Elon Musk went on a mini-tweetstorm between Friday and last night, following a report by The Huffington Post claiming that the Koch brothers and other energy magnates were planning on launching a $10 million lobbying effort to promote fossil fuels and defeat subsidies for electric vehicles. After linking to the report with a heavy “Sigh . . .”, Musk went on to argue that the traditional auto industry—and the oil and gas industry more generally—has itself been heavily subsidized for decades.
    Follow
    Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk
    Worth noting that all gasoline cars are heavily subsidized via oil company tax credits & unpaid public health costs http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/18/fossil-fuel-companies-getting-10m-a-minute-in-subsidies-says-imf
    7:37 PM – 19 Feb 2016
    Photo published for Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF
    Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF
    ‘Shocking’ revelation finds $5.3tn subsidy estimate for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments
    theguardian.com
    6,027 6,027 Retweets 7,007 7,007 likes
    According to The Huffington Post, the still-unnamed Koch lobbying effort is being organized by James Mahoney, a member of the Koch Industries board. The report cited energy industry sources who believe the effort is likely to launch by the middle of the year.
    RELATED

    SPACEX
    Elon Musk’s SpaceX Successfully Deploys Communication Satellite
    The characterization of tax programs that benefit the oil and gas industry as ‘subsidies’ long predates Musk’s tweets. The industry predictably disputes that take, instead saying it is allowed to deduct operating expenses like most businesses. In its analysis of some of the contested programs, the Atlantic critiqued a deduction that treats depletion of oil levels in wells as a form of capital depreciation, and similar practices also apply to mining, logging, and other extractive industries. Another $11.6 billion provision is putatively intended to discourage drillers and refiners from moving operations overseas, which would be challenging even without the incentive.
    Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.
    Musk went on to refer to IMF numbers putting global oil subsidies at more than $5 trillion:
    Follow
    Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk
    Global economy of $100T is overwhelmingly fossil fuel based, so IMF estimate of $5T or 5% for carbon subsidy is def right order of magnitude
    10:22 AM – 22 Feb 2016
    1,046 1,046 Retweets 2,458 2,458 likes
    On the other side of the ledger, various state and federal programs benefit both the emerging electric car industry as well as buyers of electric cars, including Musk’s Teslas. There’s a federal credit of up to $7,500 for buyers of both electric and hybrid vehicles. States including Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, and California provide additional state income tax credits for EV buyers, averaging around $2,000. And there are also the substantial grant programs for battery and EV technology development, such as the $2.4 billion laid out by the Obama administration back in 2009.
    Of course, there can be no apples-to-apples comparison of EV and oil subsidies, in part because one is a developing market, and the other is mature. National subsidies for electric cars are designed to guarantee future global dominance of the sector—a goal that, thanks to efforts like Tesla’s, seems increasingly achievable for the U.S.
    Subsidies to the oil industry, on the other hand, tend to foster geopolitical objectives (such as U.S. energy independence) rather than business goals. And with bottoming crude oil prices threatening the profitability of domestic fracking operations, getting rid of U.S. oil subsidies is probably a political non-starter.
    For more on Elon Musk watch our video.
    Play Video
    Elon Musk: Tax-Free Carbon is ‘the Dumbest Experiment in History’
    He made the remarks at Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris.
    A Koch campaign against electric cars would not be the first time Musk has gone head to head with a fellow billionaire over the future of America’s transportation and energy infrastructure. The Koch’s lobbying to defend fossil fuels has also been extensive, including fights against state-level gasoline taxes and even public transportation initiatives in cities like Nashville. And most recently, SolarCity, which Musk helped found, faced off against Warren Buffet over utility metering regulation.What may be most amazing about all of this is that the Koch brothers and Elon Musk are even playing in the same ballpark. Musk, who just a few short years ago was famously nearly broke, now has an estimated personal net worth of $13 billion dollars, while the Kochs’ fortune is around $41 billion a piece. So while this may be the opening salvo of a money-driven David vs. Goliath battle over energy policy, David has certainly been hitting the gym..

  28. Money spent on operating expenses required to run a business in order to earn a taxable income is always a deductable not a subsidy. If the government spends money or cuts specific taxes to help you build your product and gives people $7000 incentives to buy your product rather than someone elses product, that is a subsidy. Its is not really tha t difficult, Elon Musk is a taxpayer funded leftwing progressive nut case and a business phoney to boot. Got that?

  29. When I got my tax notification back from the ATO last year it included a page showing where taxes were spent. I don’t have it in front of me, but I recall being surprised that taxpayer support of business exceeded welfare spending (taxpayer support of people).

    • what are you talking about? go and do your research right now in Australia business taxes are majority of the tax payed, so without business you do not have any welfare spending the type of businesses getting government support are renewable energy, childcare, healthcare, health ins and education related businesses

    • Brendan Power. This is info the ATO sent me. Are you saying it is wrong? This is not about who pays tax is is about how the tax is spent.

  30. Brice Gower what I was talking about last night

    • I’m well aware of this fact Louis.
      The difference is he isn’t selling fine wine, leather handbags or a funny movie.
      Elon Musk’s businesses are aimed at solving the worlds energy crisis, targeting the energy consumption from transport and domestic home use.
      His business is a heavily subsidized because it benefits everyone, he doesn’t take profits off the top for luxury sake they all go back into either business.
      He is a selfless hero amongst capitalist thieves; and if he doesn’t succeed the world will die in a thick cloud of smog.

    • Whoah careful not to drink the cool aid Brice. Elon is definately a capitalist. Ethical capitalism is the new marketing. Think ronald mcdonald house and evolve. Dont forget where he has come from, and he is doing just fine out of it all. None of that discounts that he achieves good outcomes for wider society. Id like to follow a similar model one day

    • Though i certainly dont agree with the cynical tone of the article.

    • He is a capitalist, and the type I would like to be. But the point is that he doesn’t spend his fortune on frivolity, he spends it on philanthropic endeavours.

    • Why do you say that Ben?

    • Because it’s well known that the business models that he runs is pretty much a textbook example of how to start a car/aerospace/energy/financial empire when up against competitors that are slightly less than state owned in terms of reliance of government subsidies.

      He payed back his car company loans 9 years early and with interest. Wasn’t a subsidy. This was while GM et al essentially became state owned.

      He built his rocket company with his own funds, and has his NASA contracts as part of his business model. Non subsidies

      Anyone is free to make use of the EV subsidy. He seems to be the only one cleaning it up.

      Meanwhile, Cori seems to believe that the collective climatology community is caught up in a grand conspiracy and has no problem with sending heavy subsidies to coal.

      So yeah, I thought it was satire…

    • If you think taxpayers funding high risk tech startups with ongoing subsidies is good then perhaps you may find the commentary confusing.

  31. Corgi Bernardi is a complete fucknozzle

  32. Green energy= giant scam

  33. Territorial governments should not subsidize any business or corporation and involuntary taxpayers should not be forced to support any territorial government.

  34. I agree with Lawrence. LibertyWorks is ok on some points but pure trash on others.

  35. How do you know a “Big Shot” business man is lying?
    Answer: Hes a “Big Shot” Businessman, none of them got there telling the truth.

  36. I would buy one. (If I could afford it)

  37. Ive seen a few cost comparisons between the Tesla S and a semi luxury petrol car.
    Over the seven years the petrol came out ahead of the S model.

  38. Elon, if they can’t generate enough electricity to power their houses, how the hell are they going to power their cars as well??

  39. Don’t jump the gun..wait until the deal is on table – then make a judgement .

  40. These fast talking chappies will sucker them in.

  41. Unlike the current totalitarian dictatorship parties, all members are able to add policy/issue to the poll, we demand our senators and representative’s loyalty to our constitution.
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    COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION PARTY Defending Australians Defending Australia by Defending our COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTION.
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  42. Another view on the South Australia power fiasco Tim Pakis

  43. We already have enough parasites.

  44. I look at this, and think “Kemlani”…I wonder why that is!

  45. Just what Australia needs. A corporate bloodsucker on the taxpayer funded tit.

  46. Not too worry, the left, that hates corporate scumbags so much, has approved this guy, so he must be OK.

  47. We have coal gas and uranium we dont need batteries or any other bullshit that lines pollies pockets with backhanders .

  48. Seems a pretty clever guy to me.

    • Yes, the business model relies on a constant supply of idiots though.

    • Oh he is remarkably clever.
      He built an entire empire around Government subsidies and the concept of “green” transport etc. His SpaceX program is fairly interesting and is making good progress.

      I mean, most of the far left sperg lumps have never seen an open cut lithium mine that is required for said batteries but it isn’t oil so they don’t care hahahaha.

      They also forget that the electricity has to be generated in some manner to charge the car.

      That being said, the Tesla cars are fairly brilliant achievements and will eventually pave the way to electrically driven vehicles when we find a better and denser alternative to lithium for storage.

  49. He is a con man on a Grand Scale. Like the traveling uni rail salesman in Homer Simpson

  50. Mr Adani getting any offers from Australian governments??? Like the current federal government?Tax free concessions?? Incentives??

  51. Corporate welfare needs too stop

  52. Trump will cut his subsidies so he needs to find new stupid governments, stupid politicians and stupid taxpayers to get free money from. Australia has no shortage of any of these.

  53. Musk’s whole business model is based upon obtaining government subsidies.
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hy-musk-subsidies-20150531-story.html

  54. Musk, who is fully venturing into the renewable energy sector with his proposed SolarCity merger, also brought up the enormous subsidies the coal industry receives. He suggested that both companies compete without any taxpayer help.
    http://www.ecowatch.com/elon-musk-murray-subsidies-2039592767.html

    • The “enormous subsidies” the Elite Left keep talking about wrt to coal are nothing more than the standard tax deductions any normal company or individual get when they have expenses such as depreciation, interest and personnel costs relating to generation of income. There is nothing unusual whatsoever!

  55. Cory Bernardi paid by the fossil fuel mining sector best mate of Rinehart and funded by Koch brothers..

  56. The modern vampires loose !

  57. Like car manufacturers that run on oil don’t get subsidies

  58. I would rather my taxes go to developing his technology rather than helping fund wars.

  59. Bernardi knows nothing about battery storage. If SA buys a product that is subsidised by AMERICA, is that hurting us?

  60. Yes i’ll believe that an entire Australian state can be run on batteries ??

  61. As long as its for fucken free.

  62. Great news for South Australia

  63. It’s obviously a very successful business model for some.

  64. Got rich of the backs of hard working tax payers!!!! Like all elites, don’t want us wealthy like them.

  65. How true. Rich commo’s bastards.

  66. This man is NOT a good investment !! He’s here to invest in himself..not in our nation !!

  67. There are bigger fish to fry than this 3 time entrepreneur, if anyone is to blame for his government funding it is the one world government elites

  68. How much does our government support the coal industry? Get real.

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