Politics

Mike Cannon-Brookes on climate independents and his budget wishlist


He has identified four priorities he hopes the government will include in the federal budget, or that candidates will embrace in the upcoming election. These are electrifying homes to replace gas and petrol, investing in infrastructure and incentives for electric vehicles, making Australia a base for battery manufacturing, and building out transmission infrastructure to support renewable energy.

“We can get lost in this narrative of ‘technology not taxes’ – where there’s a delaying of climate action and a delaying of the economic benefits of a carbon cap from a belief that we need to wait for some magical technology of the future,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said. “These are all technologies we have today that just need to be deployed and rolled out.”

Mr Cannon-Brookes said he was trying to be “productive and concrete” and rejected the narrative that he was “just throwing stones” at the government from the sidelines, pointing out he sat on a number of government boards and councils at both state and federal level. While none of these roles were directly to do with climate change, he said he “put up his hand repeatedly for a whole lot of things” and would be willing to serve if asked.

Mr Cannon-Brookes said he was “happy to be a small part” of Climate 200 getting off the ground, but he has not had time in this election cycle to consider further support.

He also revealed he was one of the early backers of the little-known Climate Outcome Foundation, which in turn donated $195,000 to Climate 200 in 2018-19 and $77,000 in 2020-21. Mr Cannon-Brookes described the donation as small and said the group at the time was trying to educate the public about the benefits of decarbonisation through podcasts and other media.

Climate Outcome Foundation was deregistered in January, before it would have to register with the Australian Electoral Commission as an associated entity and start disclosing its donors. It passed on most of its funds to Climate 200, in a move that political opponents have used to attack Mr Holmes a Court over political transparency and integrity.

Liberal Senator Jane Hume recently accused founder Simon Holmes a Court of hypocrisy and described supporters as “trust fund babies” and “part of a new bunyip aristocracy” trying to “subvert democracy”.

Mr Holmes a Court in turn claimed a backlash to the senator’s attacks spurred a fivefold increase in donations over a 48-hour period, rising from nearly $8000 a day before Senator Hume’s comments to nearly $40,000 a day, mostly from small donations.

Mr Cannon-Brookes said that did not surprise him because the attack was “bullshit”.

“If anybody who’s pointing fingers is more transparent than Climate 200 then I’ll eat my hat,” he said. “It’s beyond the pot calling the kettle black.”

Climate 200’s disclosure for 2020-21, which was lodged with the electoral commission by February 1 but has yet to be made public, will also reveal a $56,000 donation from technology entrepreneur and prominent Zali Steggall backer Anna Josephson.

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Climate 200 executive director Byron Fay said 7600 donors had contributed $7.1 million since the relaunch of Climate 200 in August, with a third coming from rural and regional areas, but these donations won’t be reported until next February.

Mr Cannon-Brookes said Australia should have real-time disclosure for political donations rather than the disclosures being published once a year, months after the election, adding there was no technical impediment to this.

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