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OIL SLICK: Electric car advocate drives petrol-guzzling luxury Beemer sedan

evanthornley Millionaire ex-Labor state MP Evan Thornley, the CEO of a company that intends to create a network of taxpayer subsidised service stations that will attempt to robotically swap over expensive electric car batteries, is not one for smoking his own stuff it seems.

When asked by the Herald Sun what kind of car he drove, he apparently turned beetrot-red and revealed he drove a petrol-powered luxury BMW 5 series sedan of the kind he used to obnoxiously park in the state Parliament House carpark before knocking back the offer of a cabinet position and abruptly resigning his upper house state seat for a $700,000 per annum package running an electric car service station business.

He insisted to the Hun’s straight-shootign Fleur Leyden that he’s going electric “as soon as I can” and yet there are already a number of Aussie electric-enthusiasts – who aren’t raising hundreds of millions of dollars of dumb people’s money on the back of it- who’ve already been driving electric cars for some time.

Simon Hackett, the CEO of a profitable internet company (something Evan Thornley never quite managed at Looksmart) Internode has been driving electric cars for some time around Adelaide and has even imported the not-yet-approved-for-driving Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sportscar that apparently outperforms a Ferrari.

Indeed a Bendigo company Blade is already making electric cars here. Many believe electric cars will gradually replace petrol ones with currently existing petrol stations being sufficient to deal with the top-up charging requirements of motorists adequately without the need to replicate them with unnecessary taxpayer subsidy and a system that collectivises ownership of one of the most vital components of an electric car: its battery.

Political observers have been concerned that the well-connected ALP member Thornley would attempt to cash-in on his government contacts to extract loot for his private business. VEXNEWS understands Better Place’s current burnrate of money have it on track to lose $10 million this financial year with even deeper losses in the next. Ominously he has employed the husband of the NSW Premier Ben Keneally and has also hired a number of switched-on ALP operatives partly possibly because they’re smart and also because taxpayer largesse is central to the Better Place strategy.

Some in Labor circles have speculated that Better Place plans to demand a total of several hundreds of millions of dollars to roll-out these privately owned service stations, which will apparently also include retail facilities so that electric drivers can pick-up a Mars Bar (or tofu substitute) while they’re getting their electric car charged or battery-swapped or whatever.

Thornley has already ruthlessly exploited Labor connections in getting Better Place a prime position rifling through the ACT taxpayer purse.

The boss of the ACT’s electricity company Michael Costello is a well-regarded Labor operative and party member, once frequently rumoured to be bound for federal Parliament while he was Kim Beazley’s chief of staff.

Both Costello and the ACT Labor government are believed to have offered Thornley’s company Better Place many millions of dollars in subsidies to roll-out charging stations in the ACT during 2011. It was all justified by reference to carbon emissions.

We understand that electric cars – like those driven by Simon Hackett and produced by Victorian company Blade – will not be able to use Better Place facilities, only those who’ve signed up for a Better Place provided battery will be able to make use of the taxpayer-funded facilities. It’s a scandal just waiting to explode and naturally VEXNEWS is onto it first.

And it’s that lack of public access that is central to the concerns of those who say that public money is being wasted on this private venture, including most recently $2 million coming from the RACV, a not-for-profit company owned by its 1 million plus members. Thornley’s contacts played a role there too, insiders say. Thornley once made an approach to buy-out Stephen Mayne’s left-wing email newsletter Crikey and has enjoyed cordial relations with Mayne ever since despite not offering Mayne the exit he required from the business. Mayne’s wife, Paula Piccinini is a member of the RACV board, who was elected despite professing her only corporate governance experience to be that of serving on the Templestowe Kindergarten during Mayne’s presidency of the august institution.

Mayne and Thornley are recently believed to have supped together and discussed Better Place and Mayne’s political ambitions.

These are the kinds of secret back-door back-room back-hander meetings of which Mayne would once loudly complain. These days he’s as quiet as a church-mouse about his private dealings with Labor’s rat.


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  1. What a bum

    Posted by BOB | March 22, 2010, 17:45
  2. He needs to drive the JOSEM POWER KING!

    Posted by Ian | March 22, 2010, 18:41
  3. This man cannot be trusted-Did not bother to even support those in the Labor Party whom supported him

    Posted by Charlie Wilson | March 23, 2010, 18:21
  4. Uvan Thornley uz a strunge induvadual. What un udiot calls huz car cumpuny a butter place? Uz uff you could make a car run on dairy products…

    Posted by Murray from New Zealand | March 23, 2010, 20:09
  5. Where are all the people that promoted this bum now,Let him deal with Lib state goverments and minor bureacrats in Victoria.

    Posted by BOB | March 24, 2010, 7:57
  6. By the looks of that belly he also likes eating cows too.

    Another “global warming” hypocrite, my guess.

    Posted by Ben | March 24, 2010, 10:46
  7. like the rest of Labor, it is all about his own wealth

    Posted by the spin of the Brumby govt exposed | March 25, 2010, 8:41
  8. Bob, is that Hawthorn Bob? You sound a tad bitter? Is it because ET lives in Kew and that he has money and you do not live in your own electorate and live in Ted’s?

    Your a banker and a politician, he was a wealth maker, why would he stay? which is of course what you said, “he won’t last!”

    Posted by Richard Surrey Hills | March 25, 2010, 8:45
  9. Just another self-serving dickhead. This idea will end up along side the other great dickhead ideas, like Firepower.

    Posted by Life on Mars | March 25, 2010, 13:23
  10. Thornley has all the veneer of a respectable, visionary business leader, until he opens his mouth and makes claims like “pretty soon 100% of cars will be electric”. Punters want to believe what he’s saying, but don’t understand enough about the issues to realise that his fluffy business plan will be completely sidelined by big auto and big oil within 5 years. By that time though, Evan will have already skimmed ACT (and probably Victorian) taxpayers and be looking for his next scam. Shame on the RACV for wasting so much members’ money though.

    Posted by Power Trip | March 26, 2010, 9:44


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