Evan Thornley’s most passionate desire – to constantly prove himself to be the smartest person in the room in the style of other McKinsey alumni at Enron – got the better of him when he told his Labor colleagues that while he couldn’t tell them where he has going to in the private sector, he was going to “a better place” where he could “continue” his work for Labor values from outside the Parliament.
BETTER PLACE INDEED
VEXNEWS has learned and the Sunday Herald Sun’s ace investigative journalist James “The Inquisitor” Campbell has extracted a no-denial comment from Thornley’s spokesperson from the ACTU’s favoured spin-doctor EMC, in the person of Liz Lukin, that Thornley is going to a company going by the name of, you guessed it, Better Place. Click here for their site.
We understand that Better Place intends to appoint Thornley as its Australian Chief Executive, or at least intended to do so until Thornley’s bizarre political self-immolation. We believe he has been offered attractive terms to invest in the Australian venture and possibly also in the parent company.
The company makes electric car batteries and provides a system for re-charging and swapping over charged batteries for uncharged ones.
Condemned as a “smart arse” and “grub” by angry former colleagues when told of Thornley’s plans, the fact Thornley had amused himself by telling his colleagues of his destination while not telling them speaks volumes for the intense contempt he held them in.
Campbell’s piece also reveals that Thornley has now officially resigned as a Member of the Legislative Council and as the Premier’s Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation. The Premier is believed to be actively contemplating vacancies for both positions. Ominously, Evan Thornley himself is believed to be encouraging one of his dinner-party buddies and former girlfriends to nominate for the post, in a move that could cause considerable resentment in party circles.
Labor’s moderate faction Labor Unity is expected to fill the vacancy – which would normally go the Socialist Left – because of it withdrew from the Albert Park preselection contest that saw the elevation of Martin Foley, union bovver boy and employer of one-time drugs vendor Simon Kosmer to the bayside seat.
SWOOPED LIKE A VULTURE
It was in Thornley’s capacity as a government Parliamentary Secretary – to which he was appointed by former Premier Bracks who bumped Thornley into Parliament in the first place as a cover for his promotion of his then COS Tim Pallas – that the kleptocrat became aware of the company Better Place whose business model depends on millions of dollars of government assistance.
Thornley has already been actively helping the company from within government, assisting them in dealings with Macquarie Bank, with whom he has had a long relationship since they helped fund Thornley’s tech wreck Looksmart. Macquarie Equities clients in Australia purchased hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Looksmart stock which became practically worthless within months. $2000 invested in the company by Macquarie clients then is worth a little over $10 today.
A LITTLE HELP FROM THE COMRADES
VEXNEWS has learned that Better Place Australia intends to operate from Melbourne and plans to draw on the federal government’s $500 million Green car fund and to also hit up state governments for assistance in rolling out.
Thornley has already been facilitating state government help, securing for them access to the Victorian Government Investment Centre and a glowing endorsement of the company from the Minister for Innovation Gavin Jennings (click here for video of him) and from Premier Brumby himself. Jennings said he looked forward to “any degree of collaboration” with Better Place.
We understand that Thornley had already commenced negotiations with Better Place about his involvement in their company in October at the time of Better Place’s launch where they announced Melbourne would be the location of their Australian HQ.
BETTER PLACE NOW HAS TWO ROGUES
It is the sort of improper behaviour and poor corporate governance Thornley would loudly condemn in others. It is the kind of cosy deal that would have made Queensland’s Russ Hinze proud. Hinze was accused of using his government position to make himself private profit. Thornley stands accused of doing exactly the same thing.
Thornley’s once prominent position within Labor certainly presents those governments with a serious ethical issue as it they will be keen to ensure they are not seen as corruptly feathering the nest of their former parliamentarian who will use the knowledge and contacts he gained in office to squeeze out as much public money as possible for his company.
Little wonder Better Place has named its prototype vehicle “The Rogue”. Could they have had their future Australian boss in mind?
COULD BETTER PLACE BE THORNLEY’S NEXT DISASTER FOR INVESTORS?
Not everyone is convinced Better Place is on the right track.
Critics point to the need to swap car batteries every eighty minutes as being “needlessly inconvenient” and certainly in a market like Australia it will make the car much less attractive beyond the latte curtain. In markets like Israel, an hour long drive is considered a big deal – indeed it can take you from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – but it isn’t such a long distance for Australian drivers some of whom will think nothing of driving from Melbourne to Adelaide or Melbourne to Sydney for a bit of fun. It’d be much less much if you had to stop every hour for a battery change. The cries of “Are we there yet?” would echo from the backseats of the electro-cars across the nation.
One environmental technologist slammed the company:
Agassi (Better Place) has simply not produced a viable, or even defensibleâ€¨ technology for the electrification of the fleet. The idea of swappable batteries is old and just as harebrained now as it was when it was first suggested decades ago….And when â€¨batteries become quickly rechargeable, Agassiâ€™s entire trillionâ€¨ dollar system becomes instantly obsolete, whereas the current system we have would simply find gas stations swapping out gas pumps for charging posts as the demand irrevocably shifts from gasoline to â€¨electricity.
They say hybrid cars – including plug-in hybrids – offer as much energy economy without the need to create a nation wide network of charging stations and battery swap-over points.
An insightful VEXNEWS thought-partner pointed out to us yesterday when we discussed the issue that ultimately it might be a “real estate business” in the same way that airports, fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and service stations are, in that the value of the Better Place sites will be much improved by the presence of a big-name tenant such as themselves.
Whatever the model and the opportunity one thing seems certain. For a politically minded chap, it’s nowhere near as interesting as one of the most interesting portfolios in the government, Industry and Trade. The revelation that Thornley intends to be involved in Better Place still leaves many scratching their head wondering what might be going on in Evan’s.
MOVING AWAY FROM OIL BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE OILIEST MAN IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
We have opined before about the importance of weaning Australia off oil. We import our supply from the world’s worst nations, fuelling dictatorships, terror exporters, plutocracies and the construction of ice-hockey rinks and shopping malls in bits of desert that would have been better off being left in their original duned form.
So while Better Place might be a dud, no doubt there’ll be others doing similar things to eliminate and reduce our dependence on dictator diesel. We hope so for geo-political reasons as much as environmental considerations. It’s all very worthy, no doubt about it. It’s taken the unique stylings of one-time crap-band drummer Evan Thornley to make this clean technology company look extremely dirty indeed.
Many Israeli companies are very hard-core and have little patience for the niceties of public relations and maintaining appearances. In this case, the company would do well to think again about appointing someone like Thornley. He will drive them off a cliff.
The Labor governments he intends to target to further enrich himself need to tread very carefully for fear of ending up in some fast-acting Evan Thornley Quicksand.