If Morrison’s climate plan was a business proposal, how did he do?


Prime Minister Scott Morrison stands in front of a Snowy Hydro station. Source: Lukas Coch/AAP.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled his plan to get Australia to net-zero emissions by 2050; his pitch to the Australian people — to voters and taxpayers.

But according to some investors, it’s all style and not much substance, and in the business world, it wouldn’t have got him very far. 

In his speech Morrison talked a whole lot about the plan (during the press conference, he and Angus Taylor between them used the word ‘plan’ no fewer than 97 times).

The focus was largely on what the plan is not. It’s not “a plan at any cost”, nor one that will shut down coal and gas production, affect households or increase energy bills, Morrison promised.

When it comes to what it actually is, however, the details remain vague.

The plan is hinged on investment in clean energy technologies in a bid to naturally drive up demand, leading to a slow transition away from fossil fuels.

There’s $20 billion committed to the cause, but it’s not clear how that money will be spent, where it’s coming from, or whether it’s even new funding.

In a string of tweets, Atlassian founder and startup investor Mike Cannon-Brookes said there was in fact no plan, “just more bullshit”.

Having read all 129 pages of the report, he went on to call it “ridiculously embarrassing”.

“I understand technology damn well,” he added.

“This isn’t a ‘technology driven approach’. It’s inaction, misdirection and avoiding choices.”

Was Morrison’s net-zero pitch on point?

Speaking to SmartCompany, Charlie Macdonald, associate at impact VC firm Giant Leap, says Morrison’s pitch outlines “a North Star worth starting with”.

But what’s important in a pitch is not only outlining the big dream, it’s being able to clearly map out how you’re going to get there. As it stands, Morrison’s plan lacks that clarity.

Macdonald notes that Australia is indeed well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities in green hydrogen technology, but would like to see specific details as to how the plan would take these to market, especially when there are other countries in the race.

“We’d consider this for a seed-stage investment but would need to work closely with the team to crystallise how they’ll deliver — or be left in the dust.” he says.

Alan Jones, ecosystems partnership director at Impact X, is a little less generous.

“The one good move in Morrison’s pitch … was his effective use of props,” he says.

“His full-colour, properly stapled, glossy print out of his net-zero plan appeared much more substantial than the plan itself or the man delivering it.”

In the tech world in particular, it’s not uncommon to find yourself pitching a product that doesn’t quite exist yet, Jones explains. It’s about getting people to buy into the vision.

Morrison’s was pitching too big a pivot in too short a time frame, and Jones is not convinced the whole team is behind the new goal. In fact, it’s been no secret that various members of the junior Coalition party are decidedly not.

Finally, he notes that the whole net-zero plan hangs on “vague promises about tech nobody’s even seen yet”.

Granted that’s another common feature of tech startup pitches, and you can get away with it in the early days.

But this is something the Coalition has been working on in some form since 2007.

“By now, a reasonable observer would expect to see more than just buzzwords.”


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