Mike Cannon-Brookes’ campaign to reclaim ‘fair dinkum power’ swamped

Mike Cannon-Brookes’ campaign to reclaim the phrase “fair dinkum power” from Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been swamped with offers of support, and the Atlassian billionaire is in the process of registering a trademark for a logo to promote renewable energy.

Mr Cannon-Brookes said he had had hundreds of tweets and emails expressing support and even offering donations since starting the campaign on Wednesday, but was funding the exercise himself.

He is exploring options for licensing the logo – a green power plug connected to a leaf with the words “FAIR DINKUM POWER” that emerged from an online competition – through the creative commons so people can use it without paying a licence fee.

He would not comment on whether there has been any contact with the Prime Minister’s office 24 hours after launching his campaign on Twitter out of frustration and anger with what he calls Mr Morrison’s dishonest appropriation of the words “fair dinkum power”.

Mr Cannon-Brookes says he is funding the exercise himself and exploring options for licensing the logo.
Mr Cannon-Brookes says he is funding the exercise himself and exploring options for licensing the logo.

Mr Morrison has defined the expression to mean power that can be switched on and off at will when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining but critics say this is just code for extending the life of old coal power stations or even building new ones – something no power investor has done for more than 10 years.

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Like ‘Heart Foundation’ sticker

Mr Cannon-Brookes said he envisaged the logo being “like a Heart Foundation sticker” or something people can put on T-shirts, bumper bars or home batteries and solar panels to promote renewable energy and try to shift the Morrison government’s narrative from its pro-fossil fuels stance.

He said this was hypocritical given that the government’s own power company Snowy Hydro had decided to double its rollout of wind and solar energy because it is cheaper than hydro and can even undercut the operating cost of existing black coal power stations at current coal prices.

As an indication of how quickly the campaign is catching on, he said he was putting air in the tyres of his Tesla at a BP service station in Sydney’s eastern suburbs at 7.30 on Thursday morning on the school run – when a man yelled out, “That’s not fair dinkum power”, then let out a huge belly laugh and said, “Good on you.”  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, and Energy Minister Angus Taylor  have been promoting 'fair dinkum power' as ...
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, and Energy Minister Angus Taylor have been promoting ‘fair dinkum power’ as anything but wind and solar energy.

Dominic Lorrimer

His end goal is to convince people that wind and solar energy are cheaper than coal or gas or hydro energy and his vision, or “life mission”, is for Australia to be “200 per cent renewable energy powered” – in other words, to export as much energy as it consumes, all from renewable sources.

“It’s a bit of a life mission for me and I’m determined to see us get there,” Mr Cannon-Brookes told The Australian Financial Review. “I do think it’s the biggest economic opportunity for our generation, and it’s amazing that we do not talk more about it.”

More sun, wind and hydro

He said Australia had more wind, sun and hydro resources than fossil fuels in the ground but “we never talk about it that way” and the Minerals Council of Australia never mentions the solar resources that the nation is blessed with.

“I don’t think the politicians are being honest when they tell you that coal is cheaper and it’s factually not true.”

He revealed the logo for the campaign on Channel Ten’s The Project on Thursday evening and said he was appearing on the show because “I have got to take every opportunity I can to convince the broader population that renewables are cheaper”.

The trademark application is already under way and the Atlassian co-founder is seeking advice on how the creative commons licensing system can be used to allow people to use the logo to promote renewable energy while restricting its use for non-approved commercial use – for example to promote so-called “clean coal”.

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