What have we lost on Better Place?

By 30 January, 2013 15

better place

Zed Seselja is asking questions about where the ACT’s money has gone with Better Place going titsup?

ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja has today questioned the ACT Labor Government on how much money the part government owned company ActewAGL and the government itself have spent on Canberra’s future electric car network, which is now in doubt.

“The global company Better Place, which was behind Canberra’s electric car network scheme, has announced that they are moving their focus away from Australia which will cause significant delays,” Mr Seselja said.

“We were told back in 2011 that Canberra would lead the nation with an electric car network. Today we have found out that this may not be the case.

“It is fair to question whether the government did their research or whether they followed another green scheme blindly.

“It is also now up to the government to clarify how much money this scheme will now be costing the Canberra taxpayer, and what safeguards were put in place to protect our money,” Mr Seselja concluded.

Wikipedia has some background. I personally was always nervous about any scheme which involved Evan Thornley.


UPDATE 30/01/13 11:25: The ABC has some optimistic background on this.

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15 Responses to What have we lost on Better Place?
#1
milkman6:15 pm, 30 Jan 13

“followed another green scheme blindly”

Seems accurate. Something like this is exacty the reason why government should either control the project completely, or wait until it is mainstream tech.

#2
Martlark10:11 pm, 30 Jan 13

Saying ‘Green’ seems more important than actually promoting schemes that produce a good conservation return for the money. Electric cars are just plain silly. A car that cost twice as much and can go 1/4 as far? Pleeeeeaaaassseeee!

#3
dungfungus8:50 am, 31 Jan 13

Well, Better Place is being funded by ActewAGL who have a penchant for backing losers.
Remember, they lost over $50 million of ACT Ratepayers’ money with TransACT and then had the temirity to say the eventual sale of their shareholding was a “win win” situation for ACT Ratepayers.
ACT Ratepayers need future protection from these grandiose ventures. If the enthusiasts running the Territory want to risk our money (like Rhodium, Glassworks or Arboretum) let them sign personal guarantees to underwrite the losses thus isolating us ratepayers from the consequences of their lack of commercial judgement.
That’s what happens in the real world.

#4
thebrownstreak699:16 am, 31 Jan 13

I’d say Zed should definitely be asking these questions. Where exactly has the money gone? What are we left with? Why do we think our government is capable of running a viable business?

#5
dungfungus9:03 am, 07 Feb 13

dungfungus said :

Well, Better Place is being funded by ActewAGL who have a penchant for backing losers.
Remember, they lost over $50 million of ACT Ratepayers’ money with TransACT and then had the temirity to say the eventual sale of their shareholding was a “win win” situation for ACT Ratepayers.
ACT Ratepayers need future protection from these grandiose ventures. If the enthusiasts running the Territory want to risk our money (like Rhodium, Glassworks or Arboretum) let them sign personal guarantees to underwrite the losses thus isolating us ratepayers from the consequences of their lack of commercial judgement.
That’s what happens in the real world.

Better Place’s Australian unit to close after losing funding by: John Durie From: The Australian February 06, 2013 3:12PM Increase Text SizeDecrease Text SizePrintEmail
Share Add to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to FacebookAdd to KwoffAdd to MyspaceAdd to NewsvineWhat are these?
THE Better Place electric car concept in Australia is officially dead after the Israeli parent company last night formally withdrew funding for the local operation.
The Australian team failed in its attempts to raise funding on its own and will now be wound down.
.

#6
dungfungus9:08 am, 07 Feb 13

John Durie from The Australian reports that The Better Place electric car concept in Australia is officially dead after the Israeli parent company last night formally withdrew funding for the local operation.
The Australian team failed in its attempts to raise funding on its own and will now be wound down.
.

#7
davo1019:51 am, 07 Feb 13

dungfungus said :

let them sign personal guarantees to underwrite the losses thus isolating us ratepayers from the consequences of their lack of commercial judgement.
That’s what happens in the real world.

Hilarious. In the “real world” the worst possible outcome for a CEO is that they get asked to leave. Even if you cock things up as badly as Tom Albanese the worst thing that can happen is you don’t get your nice fat payout. During the GFC, as the tide went out and we could see which CEO’s weren’t wearing pants, they were still all getting themselves “performance” bonuses.

#8
HiddenDragon10:55 am, 07 Feb 13

In the exceedingly unlikely event that Zed gets an answer with a specific dollar figure attached, it would be most interesting to compare that to the cost of keeping Pegasus afloat.

#9
dungfungus12:22 pm, 07 Feb 13

davo101 said :

dungfungus said :

let them sign personal guarantees to underwrite the losses thus isolating us ratepayers from the consequences of their lack of commercial judgement.
That’s what happens in the real world.

Hilarious. In the “real world” the worst possible outcome for a CEO is that they get asked to leave. Even if you cock things up as badly as Tom Albanese the worst thing that can happen is you don’t get your nice fat payout. During the GFC, as the tide went out and we could see which CEO’s weren’t wearing pants, they were still all getting themselves “performance” bonuses.

I don’t agree with your analogy.
You are using public companies as an example and shareholders in public companies have a choice to invest in them or, if they perceive that the risks are too great or the decisions made by the CEO are not to their liking, they can sell their shares and invest elsewhere. Directors of public companies cannot be expected to personally guarantee the shareholders money either so this is why there is no accountabilty. If public companies need liquidity they can always make a call on their shareholders and the shareholders have a choice to go along or cut their losses and bail out.
What I was alluding to is completely different as the ACT Government and its associate corporations are more akin to a private company and the shareholders (ratepayers) are locked in. We can’t simply “cash out” and move across the border because rates and utilities are cheaper there. If our “CEOs” lose money on a bad investment they increase the rates, we don’t have a choice do we?
I think most ratepayers would agree that the core purpose of our elected government and its corporate subsidiaries is to deliver services efficiently and with good value for money; not to embark on a whimsical commercial ventures borrowing the ratepayers’ money to fund them.
If a private company in the real commercial world does this through borrowing the directors will have to personally guarantee repayment of the loan and often lodge collateral securities to balance perceived risks.
You may find my comments hilarious now but when your rates and other government service charges increase without explanation you may not find it so funny.
Can you nominate one commercial venture that our ACT government “CEOs” have embarked on that has returned a dividend for the ratepayers?

#10
c_c™5:27 pm, 27 May 13

The whole company has now folded internationally, $850m down the drain including investments from GE, HSBC and Morgan Stanley.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57586236-76/electric-car-startup-better-place-liquidating-after-$850-million-investment/

No surprise.

#11
LSWCHP10:46 pm, 27 May 13

dungfungus said :

I think most ratepayers would agree that the core purpose of our elected government and its corporate subsidiaries is to deliver services efficiently and with good value for money; not to embark on a whimsical commercial ventures borrowing the ratepayers’ money to fund them.

This, this and this. Never a truer word was spoken. All I want is roads that don’t fall to bits after 6 months, schools where my kids aren’t beaten up by hoods, honest and well paid cops to catch the hoods who beat up kids at school, my garbage taken away and treated properly, and other stuff like that.

Getting sucked into bogus commercial scams like this is for chumps. If our politicians want to be chumps then they should feel free, as long as they do it with their own funds, not ours.

#12
LSWCHP10:56 pm, 27 May 13

c_c™ said :

The whole company has now folded internationally, $850m down the drain including investments from GE, HSBC and Morgan Stanley.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57586236-76/electric-car-startup-better-place-liquidating-after-$850-million-investment/

No surprise.

In situations like this, it’s interesting to contemplate the fact that money sort of obeys the first law of thermodynamics. So that $850M hasn’t been destroyed. It’s still out there, but it’s just moved from one place to another. Specifically, it’s moved from the bank accounts of the suppliers, into the bank accounts of some other people. And we citizens of Canberra, along with many others, are among the suppliers.

I suspect that despite the collapse of this whole operation, there are many pointy shoe wearing blokes involved who have large chunks of that wedge hidden away in offshore accounts, and they’re doing very well indeed as they snigger and motor their way down a freeway somewhere in their petrol fueled V12 sports cars.

#13
Diggety2:50 am, 28 May 13

Subsidies = industry death.

Please keep this curse away from renewables.

#14
p110:22 am, 28 May 13

It surprised me a little that such a thing would have been appealing at all in Canberra, and more specifically to a company like ACTEW who already specialise in in supplying metered amounts of electricity to commercial customers?

Surely the vast majority of plug in electric (or plug in hybrid) car users in Canberra in the foreseeable future would just use a power point at home or work?

#15
dungfungus10:40 am, 28 May 13

p1 said :

It surprised me a little that such a thing would have been appealing at all in Canberra, and more specifically to a company like ACTEW who already specialise in in supplying metered amounts of electricity to commercial customers?

Surely the vast majority of plug in electric (or plug in hybrid) car users in Canberra in the foreseeable future would just use a power point at home or work?

A vast majority of users in the nominated category would be 2 (out of 3).

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