Mike Cannon-Brookes to Australia: replace ‘dying’ coal industry with clean energy

'Fair dinkum' energy is solar not coal says billionaire.Atlassian, Cannon-Brookes' software firm

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has told an audience of financiers that exporting coal is a ‘dying’ industry. Instead, Australia should replace the coal and gas components of mining with clean energy.

The tech billionaire made the comments during an audience Q&A at Morgan Stanley’s Australia Summit on Tuesday. Cannon-Brookes said that in 15 to 25 years the nation’s $40 billion coal industry would be worthless, the SMH reports.

He also lambasted the Federal Government’s decision to cut tax concessions for corporate investment in research and development. In addition, a lack of policy support for renewable energy was holding the sector back.

Mike Cannon-Brookes

The coal industry is ‘dying’, according to Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, and should be replaced with exports of clean energy. Image: Atlassian

However, the 39-year-old CEO reserved the majority of his ire for powerful mining lobby, the Minerals Council of Australia. Its approach to renewable energy was just “nuts”, he said.

“We could power the entire planet five times over just from sunlight,” he told a questioner. “We’re also a great wind resource, yet the Minerals Council won’t classify solar and wind as natural resources.

“Guess what? There are billions of people to our immediate north who need that power if we could develop it as an export industry.”

Mike Cannon-Brookes: ‘fair dinkum’ about clean energy

Cannon-Brookes is arguably responsible for Australia becoming home to the world’s biggest lithium ion battery. In 2017, he famously challenged Tesla CEO Elon Musk to build the $200 million Powerpack system in South Australia in 100 days, or deliver it free. (Musk won the challenge with time to spare.)

Cannon-Brookes also last year seized on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s calls for more ‘fair dinkum’ power. The PM was talking about increased baseload electricity from coal-fired power stations. But he said solar power, not coal, was Australia’s real fair dinkum energy solution.

He also wants a reinstated carbon price applied to big polluters. Along with an end to subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Australia’s mining future is in clean resources

Tech mogul Cannon-Brookes then told the Morgan Stanley financial summit that Australia’s mining future was in rare-earth materials for building clean energy technologies.

“People say mining is a problem,” he said. “Mining isn’t a problem for Australia – mining is great. We ship all of the raw ingredients out of mining to do all of these things.

“This should power Australia’s economy, no pun intended, for the next 20 plus years, building giant industries… [but] we are not aligned to do that at the moment.”