As part of a ‘vote climate’ strategy I have often called for ‘climate Independents’ to oppose those Liberal and National MP climate change deniers that occupy safe seats in our Federal parliament. Those climate Independents should necessarily be from the centre or conservative side of politics and preferably be high profile and media friendly – the more well-known the better. A ‘hit list’ of these deniers in the current Federal parliament should be easy to compile – starting with ex PM Mr Abbott and including a few Victorians such as Kevin Andrews.
Now prominent Liberal Party member Oliver Yates has called for the Liberal party to split and for independent Liberals – those that accept the overwhelming evidence of climate science and the need for the Adani coal mine to be stopped – to oppose sitting members. Writing an opinion piece in the Guardian Yates noted: “We must provide alternatives for Liberals to vote for at the next federal election, and I hope to see independent Liberals provide electors in safe Liberal seats with that choice. We need to return to the day where politicians know that their job is not to retain their job but rather to represent their electorate, who, if they are lucky, reward them with their job.”
There are a growing number of environmental and progressive political organisations that have joined the ‘vote climate’ movement. These include Environment Victoria and the Friends of the Earths’ Act on Climate collective in the Victorian election and Get Up and Stop Adani in the recent Wentworth by-election. By-elections allow groups to concentrate their efforts in seats that they would otherwise discount or ignore in a general election. And yet both these elections illustrate that there is a strong demand for rational climate policies in these conservative seats.
Since actual climate deniers number only about 5% of the population and around 70% accept human caused climate change then it follows that there is a substantial body of voters on the conservative side of politics waiting for a suitable candidate. Now the ‘Vote Climate’ campaign has been joined by the Australian Conservation Foundation these groups should co-ordinate their campaigns so that ‘climate independents’ in safe seats are not only not forgotten but encouraged and assisted wherever possible. Included in this should be the issue of some sort of ‘Conservatives for Climate’ How to Vote Senate tickets in all states – especially those where climate deniers, like Senator Abetz in Tassie, head the Lib ticket.
By all means the various organisations should continue to run their own specific campaigns. But there is much to be gained by co-operation between these groups and to shift Federal parliament back to an active bipartisanship on climate by the removal or marginalising of the deniers. In some electorates prominent individuals should be requested to stand if no suitable candidate appears to be forthcoming. They should then be supported in many as ways as possible especially in online promotions. A co-ordinated ‘vote climate’ campaign would also ensure that preferences from both the sympathetic parties – the Greens and Labor – flow in the right direction.