An Election Strategy for Bush and Town

For more than a decade I have been pushing for citizens to ‘vote climate’ particularly in Gippsland, but anywhere in Australia. To ‘vote climate’ essentially is to vote for the candidate who understands the science and the need for urgent action and is prepared to act on it. Preferences on this ballot should flow in strict order until a denier (One Nation or the Nationals?) or major party candidate (primarily the LNP) is numbered last.

The ‘bush strategy’ aim should be the defeat of as many National Party sinecure holders as possible and corresponding with a strategy for ‘safe’ city seats held by the Liberals – especially the climate deniers in their ranks. The strategy means that strong and popular independent candidates are needed and they should be supported and promoted wherever possible. Aside from strong and popular candidates having a ‘grass roots’ organisation will be an essential element, like that pioneered by ‘Voices for Indi’, which first saw the election of Cathy McGowan and now Helen Haines. The ‘Voices’ groups have been springing up around the country, mainly in NSW.

The strategy also requires that a significant number of voters from all the major parties disregard party loyalties and cast their first preference for ‘the’ prominent independent and that preferences from other candidates flow tightly to the promoted independent. Many things can go wrong with this so some luck helps. It also requires both Labor and the Greens to conduct low-key campaigns in these seats and to direct their preferences the right way. The campaign in Kooyong at the last election misfired with two strong ‘climate’ candidates – Julian Burnside for the Greens and independent Oliver Yates – tending to cancel each other out, though for the first time they reduced the sitting members’ vote enough to go to preferences.

But if the triumph of Zali Steggall can be repeated in half a dozen other places in the bush with the incumbent independents holding their seats, and perhaps the addition of a green or two, suddenly we can have a powerful cross bench. Best of all would be a repeat of something along the lines of the minority Gillard government – preferably without a malignant and aggressive opposition leader or some power monger who championed coal.