During the recent State Election (see here) a small number of activists asked various candidates the Simon Holmes à Court basic question “Do you accept the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming?” After planning to ask the question of all candidates across the five Gippsland electorates – Narracan, Bass, Morwell, and Gippsland South and East – the task became overwhelming and I decided to concentrate on my own electorate of Gippsland East.
The positive responses here were from Labor, the Greens and two independents and these were publicised on the social media. Of the seven candidates 6 replied and only one failed to respond. Two of the replies were interesting in that they skirted around the central question but implied acceptance and in the case of the Liberal Democrat candidate expressed enthusiasm for renewable energy. Both these replies slightly contradicted their party positions.
Sitting member Tim Bull accepted that climate change was happening but took the position that the human influence aspect is ‘still open to debate’. This is basically a denialist position and a rear guard action, probably to remain within National party guidelines. It emphasises his, and his party’s, failure to grasp the basics of climate change – the greenhouse effect, the role of carbon dioxide and of humanity’s burning of fossil fuels.
As most readers will be aware the question and social media had no immediate effect in Gippsland East. But activists should not be too disappointed. For a start the social media campaign goes everywhere and the statements of support for the various candidates were circulated far wider than the Gippsland region. It also means we have to work harder and smarter and in greater numbers to extend the message well beyond the social media.
Simon Holmes à Court was aware of the Tim Bull reply and possibly partly because of this has improved his question to “can you please confirm that you accept the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming and tell us what *you* will do to address the challenge?” Hopefully this will allow less leg room for candidates in their replies and being able to avoid answering the question.
This is the question we should be asking now, not just once but many times and asked by as many people as possible, by writing to our local papers and by word of mouth. This then will be small but significant part of the task of turning the upcoming federal election into a ‘climate referendum’. After our trial run last year we will be better organised.