ALAN KOHLER. Hello, Elon? It’s Malcolm.

Mar 14, 2017

“Cannon-Brookes! That man’s an absolute nuisance. He’s been causing Arthur problems with our 457 visa plans, and now he’s trying to mess up the nice little wedge we’ve got going with Shorten and Weatherill over renewables and blackouts in Adelaide.”  


“Hey, it says here that Jay Weatherill has been talking to Elon Musk about sticking a whole lot of batteries in South Australia so they don’t have blackouts any more. Is that true?”

“Yes, Prime Minister. Apparently Mr Musk made an offer on the Twitter that he would solve the state’s energy problems in 100 days or it would be free. So Mr Weatherill rang him up.”

“Good grief. How does Elon Musk even know that South Australia exists? Let alone that it’s been having blackouts! Who told him?”

“It seems to have been that young Michael Cannon-Brookes sir.”

“Cannon-Brookes! That man’s an absolute nuisance. He’s been causing Arthur problems with our 457 visa plans, and now he’s trying to mess up the nice little wedge we’ve got going with Shorten and Weatherill over renewables and blackouts in Adelaide.”

“Yes Prime Minister”.

“Get that Elon Musk on the phone! I can’t let Weatherill have this to himself — he and Shorten will be insufferable.”

“Er it’s the middle of the night in California, Prime Minister.”

“Wake him up! Doesn’t he know who I am? Bloody Jay Weatherill, getting in first. Bloody Cannon-Brookes.”

“I really think we should wait till tomorrow sir. Mr Musk is richer than you. It might not be a constructive conversation if you wake him up.”

“Oh all right. Get hold of his phone number and tweet or email them or something and tell his people I want to talk to him.”

“Yes Prime Minister.”


“Hello? Elon? It’s Malcolm Turnbull here, Prime Minister of Australia.”

“Hi Malcolm, great to talk to you. Jay said you might call.”

“He did, did he? Yes I’d heard you had spoken to him. Look, he’s only Premier of a state, Elon, and a very small one, you know, out of the way, right down the bottom of Australia. Do you know there are twice as many people in Silicon Valley as there are in South Australia? It’s a terribly small place, very unimportant.”

“Really? I got the impression it was Australia’s most dynamic state, very innovative. Anyway, Jay is a nice man. We had a great chat, and I’m going to fix his blackouts.”

“Yes, well that’s what I need to talk to you about Elon. I just want you to know that as Prime Minister I am very much in favour of batteries. I have always said batteries are the future. Always said it. Terribly important. Batteries and renewable energy. But look, we need to make this a national plan, not just for one state.”

“Oh? Jay told me you were against renewables and in favour of coal. In fact, he said that you said that anyone who likes renewable energy was coalophobic.”

“Oh no, no, no. That was Scott Morrison, our bean counter. Heh, heh. He does rather get carried away sometimes Elon. Nobody takes any notice of him anymore.”

“Well, sure, Malcolm, but you do know that our batteries are designed to work with solar and wind power?”

“Yes, I know, Elon, but they could work with coal couldn’t they? I mean batteries don’t care what sort of electricity they are storing do they? Eh? It’s all the same electrons, isn’t it?”

“Well of course, electricity is the same no matter how it’s generated, Malcolm, but coal generators don’t need storage — they go all the time. The whole point of batteries is that solar energy stops at night and when the wind isn’t blowing, so that’s when you need the batteries.”

“Yes, yes, but hypothetically they could work with coal power couldn’t they? I mean, there’d be nothing in theory to stop you storing coal electricity in Tesla batteries as well?”

“Well, no, nothing in theory, but I can’t see the point.”

“It’s just that I’ve got this problem with some chaps in my party who made me promise I wouldn’t be in favour of renewable energy, and now I’ve got bloody Tony Abbott making a pest of himself and calling for the RET to be abolished.”

“Yes, Jay told me about that Abbott guy. He sounds like a real piece of work. But Mike Cannon-Brookes was telling me this morning that the right-wingers got beat up pretty badly in the Western Australian election, and that nobody has to worry about them any more?”

“Well, you are up with the latest news Elon! Yes, you’re right, our lot has come a bit of a gutser in WA, and the anti-climate change types have had a setback, that’s for sure …”

“…and Jay texted me this morning that the result in Western Australia means the opposition to renewables is finished.”

“Well, I don’t know about that Elon. It’s a bit early for Weatherill and Cannon-Brookes to declare victory for the greenies just yet. Australian politics is complicated you know. But help me out here, Elon — I need to say I’m in favour of your batteries, so that Jay Weatherill doesn’t get you all to himself, without saying I’m in favour of renewables. Can we do that?”

“Look, Malcolm, how about this: you tweet that we had a great in depth discussion. You say something nice about batteries, but don’t even mention renewables. When I respond, I’ll mention renewables, not you. And then you’re not saying it.”

“Great idea, Elon. Thank you. I’m so glad we had this talk.”

Alan Kohler is Publisher of The Constant Investor —  this article appeared in The Australian on 13 March 2017.

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