Coalition voters will become climate battlegrounds in next election


The key seats held by the Coalition will be targeted by a wave of independent campaigns in the upcoming federal election, with the aim of achieving stronger action on climate change.

Previously, in the 2013 federal election, independent Cathy McGowan led a successful grassroots campaign to oust Sophie Mirabella in India, and climate action was a cornerstone of her platform.

In 2019, winter Olympic athlete Zali Steggall led an independent campaign focused on climate action to win the Warringah seat from Tony Abbott.

These victories have spawned similar campaigns like Voices of North Sydney and Voices of Kooyong, as well as other nationwide efforts that will focus on several key electorates.

Zali Steggall’s landslide victory over Tony Abbott inspired other climate-conscious campaigns across the country. Photo: AAP

A day after the government announced its net zero target, the Smart Energy Council – Australia’s leading body for solar energy and electricity storage – launched a campaign to target a handful of electorates held by government across the country.

“There are ardently and staunchly anti-renewable members of the National Party and the Liberal Party, and we will target them,” said CEO John Grimes. TBEN.

“And there are a number of moderate liberals who have – systematically – lost the debate internally, who have voted time and time again to roll back and attack our industry, and we will target them as well.”

The plan is to organize town halls, remove advertising and raise awareness in another way as part of a “ruthless” campaign against the government.

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Mr Grimes cited headquarters such as Kooyong and Higgins in Melbourne, and Mackellar and Wentworth in Sydney, among others.

One of those “moderate liberals” is North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman.

After the 2019-2020 bushfire season, North Sydney architect and urban planner Rod Simpson felt frustrated with politicians who he said ignored the science of climate change.

Inspired by Indi and Warringah’s campaigns, he and his partner started the Voices of North Sydney group, which is working to oust Mr Zimmerman.

Mr Simpson said that after conducting research which found that the “vast majority” of the electorate wanted stronger action on climate change, Mr Zimmerman responded by lecturing him on the ins and outs. outcomes of the Westminster Representative Democracy System.

“This is first-class eighteenth-century thinking,” Mr. Simpson said TND.

“We actually have the technology, the techniques and the communication channels to do things very differently from people who come to London on horseback. “

Although Voices of North Sydney does not explicitly endorse a candidate, it hopes to further the democratic process through “kitchen table discussions” and advocacy, which organizers hope Mr Zimmerman will be rejected.

It’s a similar story in Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s Hume electorate.

Moss Vale pilot Alex Murphy has been feeling unhappy after the last federal election.

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While on work stoppage during the 2020 shutdowns, he turned his energy to political organizing by founding a group called Vote Angus Out.

“Our main intention is in the name,” said Mr. Murphy. TND.

Climate change is a key issue for the movement, but it is one of many, including transparency and accountability, both of which are recurring themes for grassroots movements in Australia.

Vote for Angus
Alex Murphy (front, right) says the Vote Angus Out campaign is resolutely focused on one goal.

It helps that they are trying to topple a cabinet member, Murphy said, and after raising more than $ 60,000 so far, the group plans to plaster the electorate with ads in time for the next election.

“We have a nice big target,” said Mr. Murphy.

Vote Angus Out collaborated with another group, Voices of Hume.

But not all “Voices of” groups are hostile to sitting MPs.

The voices of Mackellar President Leonie Scarlett said TND that his goal is to be a “conduit” for locals to voice their opinions, rather than toppling Congressman Jason Falinski.

Nonetheless, the group’s research found that stronger climate action was the top concern of those surveyed, and this will potentially be reflected in the polls.

Comedian Dan Ilic is also leading a non-partisan campaign for climate action in the country’s main electorates.

After his fundraising for a satirical climate change billboard outside the COP26 summit in Glasgow far exceeded his goal of over $ 200,000, Mr Ilic decided to use the ‘money left over to fund billboards in Barnaby Joyce’s electorate in New England and Kooyong’s electorate in Josh Frydenberg, among others.

“For more than a decade, this government has been delaying, destroying, dismantling, destroying any type of climate action,” he said previously. TND.

These electorates were not chosen only because of their high level MPs.

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According to Age, a recent Climate 200 poll found that an independent like Ms McGowan or Ms Steggall may receive more first preference votes than Mr Frydenberg in Kooyong.

Such grassroots and climate-savvy candidates would perform well in other electorates as well, the poll found.

After funding candidates like Dr Helen Haines (who succeeded Ms McGowan in Indi) and Dr Kerryn Phelps in the last election, Climate 200 is now looking to fund a new batch of independents in the next election.

The end result is pressure on sitting MPs from a wide range of groups, and climate action is one of their biggest shared concerns.

Mr Grimes of the Solar Peak Corps said this new game plan was inspired by the tactics of the mining industry.

His plan for the government is clear: “Unless we make it electorally untenable for them to continue with this charade that is hampering our economic future, they are not going to change. “