Coal Miners Drive Teslas

On the one side, you have the inner-city latté sipper, whose political priority is a small environmental footprint. Scott Morrison addressed this trope recently when he said, “Net zero [emissions] won’t be achieved in inner-city wine bars.”

The “wine bar” guy drives a small car, lives in a small apartment, probably owns a cat, and is out of touch with the “real” Australia. He’s implicitly less of a man.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor captioned this image, “Camping with Bill Shorten” on his Facebook page.

On the other side is red-blooded, meat-eating Australia. The Herald Sun played to this imaginary of a conservative, working-class, salt-of-the-earth Australia in their 2021 budget coverage. This character appreciates Angus Taylor memes and the (rural) urban legend that country towns’ Tesla chargers are powered by diesel generators. 

The Fourth Estate’s coverage of the 2021 federal budget.

With this dated cultural narrative somehow still resonant, it’s been hilarious to follow the new @minersinteslas series on Twitter. Starting on 1 May, the account is all about, “What it says on the tin – Central Queensland Coal Miners Test Driving Teslas.”

The first episode features a large, bearded bloke wearing “speed-dealer” sunnies being encouraged to test out Tesla’s claim that its Model S can go from 0-100km/hr in three seconds. The guy hits the accelerator and loses his mind, saying, “It’s f***in’ got some go, eh?”

On Friday, @minersinteslas had the pleasure of hosting Bob Katter for a joy ride. Take 30 seconds to enjoy it for yourself. In Bob’s words, “So exciting. So thrilling.”

While eco-politics has been associated with the idea of a small footprint, those days are long gone. Fossil fuels are now so dated that they’re the basis for worse cars and more expensive, less efficient energy production. Government subsidies are a necessity for new projects to get off the ground.

Renewable energy is now slated to provide many times Australia’s annual energy consumption, with plenty to spare for a green hydrogen export industry, And then there are the cars…

According to the Australia Institute, subsidies for coal miners cost the Australian budget a massive $10.3 billion last financial year. As there are approximately 40,000 coal miners in the country, the subsidy is not only enough to pay them a six-figure wage. It’s enough to pay for that, and buy them each a Tesla Model-S!

So let’s stop pretending the subsidies are about the miners, or are anything other than a naked corporate give-away.

Follow Christian on Twitter for more news updates.

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