I am sometimes criticised when I claim the Renewable Energy Party is the only registered single issue climate party in Australia. ‘What about the Greens?’ I am frequently asked. Some with strong ‘green’ loyalties even see single issue parties such as the REP as a threat and not as an organisation trying to achieve similar goals. Whilst it is obvious the Greens have by far and away the best ‘climate’ policy of all the major parties they are certainly not a ‘single-issue’ party as they have a range of ‘other’ policies on the issues we are facing.
Many of these ‘other’ policies are unrelated to the problem of climate change and frequently they obscure it completely in the day to day political ‘argy bargy’. The animal liberation movement for instance has some influence on their policies and many farmers and country people confuse these groups seeing the greens as closet ‘animal libbers’. Rightly or wrongly the greens are also seen as a party of the left and are therefore unable to fulfil one of the most important requirements of a single issue party – that it appeal across the political spectrum.
This appeal should be centrist and not left or right. The party should equally appeal to the conservative as to a green or labour voter. The ‘climate’ party should be working to influence the political process and setting the political agenda rather than aiming to get people elected to parliament. Quite possibly some candidates will eventually be elected if the mainstream parties continue to ignore the issue.
The question remains as to how best to influence the political process. My preferred option is to target the climate deniers in parliament, to take votes off them and make their seats unsafe or vulnerable, even, at best, losing them. To do this you need an attractive or well-known candidate, a sympathetic media and a substantial budget – preferably all three. Further there is the thorny question of preferences. To maintain the centrist position a three-way split ticket is probably necessary and divided between those for whom climate change is an overriding issue and Labor and the Liberals. And yet to achieve the end result the preferences need to be directed away from the climate change deniers.
The seats that should be targeted are becoming increasingly obvious such as those of our ex-PM, our current deputy PM, and a large chunk of the Liberals and Nationals. The party should, as a matter of course, support climate independents in seats they are not contesting. They should also not contest seats in which a strong climate candidate already exists, such as Tony Windsor in New England.