Single Issue Climate Parties and ICAN

Senate Candidate visits Bairnsdale

I wish to offer my congratulations to the outstanding election campaign run by Independents for Climate Action Now (ICAN) of which I am a member and supporter. In their brief life so far – only as old as the formal election campaign itself – ICAN has managed to stage a quite credible election campaign. In the short time available they have put up excellent Senate candidates in three states – all highly qualified and local – and in each managed to run prominent, if unco-ordinated campaigns. Their presence on social media has been boosted by having Anglican priest Fr. Rod Bower as lead NSW candidate. Rod is an accomplished and outspoken twitter user with a large following. The other candidates quickly adapted to using twitter though I am not sure how they fared on facebook. It remains to be seen whether this translates into primary votes.

Comparing ICAN with previous ‘climate’ party efforts this seems to be, hopefully, third time lucky. ICAN’s organisation and efforts appear to be much more closely aligned with the Climate Change Coalition (CCC) of 2007 than that of the Renewable Energy Party (REP)* of 2016. The CCC were swamped in the Ruddslide and although they had excellent candidates with a polarised election they found it difficult to get any publicity in the mainstream media. Whilst ICAN’s situation is similar the burgeoning social media has helped them immensely. As well they have gained TV slots by both science and stunt, in all of the eastern states except Tassie. The REP’s campaign was, aside from a few online articles, ignored and they had little traction in the media. Possibly working to ICAN’s advantage has been the promotion of the election by NGOs as the ‘climate election’ – notably by the Australian Conservation Foundation.

As I noted last week the chances of ICAN getting a candidate up are very small indeed and even getting funding and deposits returned (4% of primary votes) may be hard to achieve. But the next steps for ICAN may be the most difficult of all especially if their electoral performance is below expectations. Both the CCC and the REP failed to survive their one election disappointments. So the need is for ICAN to now step up, whatever the election results, and to build, organise and capitalise on their energetic, welcome and necessary introduction to our electoral politics.

*by the time I attempted to join the CCC in 2008 it was already defunct, a demise brought on by conflict over previous bizarre preference deals. I was a member, candidate and eventually secretary of the REP before it was deregistered in 2018.