ICAN is the latest in a string of political ‘climate’ parties endeavouring to make some impact on the Australian political scene. I have written on a number of occasions about the history of climate parties over the last 10 years (see here and here). There has yet to be one of these parties that has had any resilience or staying power. Mostly they have been born of hope and overoptimism and short lived. Of the 2 parties that have successfully registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) – the Climate Change Coalition (CCC) and the Renewable Energy Party (REP) – both disappeared after disastrous initial election performances, although a small group, including yours truly, unsuccessfully attempted to save the latter.
As well as ICAN there are currently two* other unregistered political parties – the Climate Democrats aiming for the centre voter and Save the Planet (STP) appealing to the left of the greens. Both appear to be well short of the membership (500) necessary for registration although the latter group has been in existence for a number of years. Prior to joining the REP I was a member of this organisation. ICAN membership is currently over 700 and AEC registration was applied for earlier this month. Hopefully this will be successful.
The ICAN website has amongst other important information a link to activist Jane Morton’s “Don’t Mention the Emergency” booklet. The news however is a little bit dated and it is very important that members know what is happening and are continually informed. I suggest that the news page could be updated on a regular basis – say fortnightly – and a monthly email newsletter be available for those interested. Links to the party’s social media sites would also be helpful.
One of the main problems with single issue parties of this nature is their somewhat naïve approach to electoral politics. Both the climate parties previously registered with the AEC – the CCC and the REP – collapsed after one election, in 2007 and 2016 respectively. Both parties concentrated on the Senate with minimal House of Reps candidates and all of their candidates lost their deposits. It is most unlikely that any new party will get a Senator elected except my accident.
A climate party is necessary to help frame the debate and the process of winning seats should be secondary. The appeal across the political spectrum is one of the positives of ICAN and makes it a direct successor to the CCC. And if it is not tarnished with the left/green brush it can appeal to voters in very conservative electorates, especially in the bush.
The primacy of global warming and the need for urgent action should be thrust before the electorate at every opportunity. Party loyalty is meaningless in the face of the climate emergency. Co-operation and co-ordination between these groups is essential as it is with the numerous extra-parliamentary groups. A single issue climate party is another ‘string in the bow’ to radically transform our politics. But above all we must work to make the next federal election a ‘climate election’.
*I have just found another – One Planet