Liberal Party stalwart Malcolm Turnbull strides away from fossil fuels

Last week, Malcolm Turnbull was in the US on a goodwill tour, culminating in his address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on ‘economic convergence in the Asia Pacific’.

Last week, Malcolm Turnbull was in the US on a goodwill tour, culminating in his address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on ‘economic convergence in the Asia Pacific’.

A fairly standard tour for the Australian Minister for Communications (and former Leader of the Liberal Party in Opposition), extolling the virtues of business in Queensland and across the nation, however there was an interesting piece uploaded to his public facebook page:

Malcolm Turnbull

We like this update because it focuses not just on the great innovation and success of the Tesla Motors design, but also on the capacity for innovation to change the way we look at energy. The former Minister for Environment & Water Resources hinted at his preference for renewable energy when he commented on the potential for innovation in technology to create energy storage through batteries.

“…four years ago Tesla took it over and it went from being an industrial relic to the home of what many regard as the world’s fastest and coolest electric car. And many of the workers at Tesla today are auto workers who had been laid off when the old GM/Toyota plant closed. Tesla has gone from employing 500 people to 11,000 in five years. A reminder of how innovation drives jobs…Batteries have the potential to revolutionise the energy market, reducing peaking power requirements, optimising grid utilisation of renewables and in some cases enabling consumers to go off the grid altogether…”

This is exciting stuff. We’ve always known Malcolm Turnbull as a real political player with a lot of power, although his ups and downs with the National Braodband Network have caused some problems. Here he is using his influence to stride away from the fossil fuel-focused party line and talk about the potential for energy storage to enable us to increase our clean energy mix – he even suggests that we could go off the grid, becoming completely self sufficient, using renewables in our daily life. This is refereshing to see a long term politician speaking so openly about the potential for clean energy in Australia.

Perhaps there will be a bit of ‘harumpf’ and backlash behind closed doors, and behind party lines, however Turnbull makes a much bigger point; that innovation can lead to breakthroughs across many industries, and have ripple effects as our economy grows and transforms. Specifically, he’s shown us how renewables and alternative forms of energy can be used to positive economic effect, creating strong gains for disenfranchised industries and workforces. Given the downturn in automotive manufacturing in Australia in the last few years, Turnbull quite simply told us that with a little bit of creative thinking and innovation we could transform our economy towards future focused, sustainable markets. If San Francisco can turn around their automotive industry, why can’t we?

Turnbull is already misaligned with the slim majority of his party in that he supports climate change reality, and is progressive on a number of social issues where his liberal colleagues have taken a more hardline stance. We look forward to seeing what he says next on clean energy and the future of renewables. Good on ya Turnbull, keep fighting the good fight!

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