Competing Climate Independents

The Guardian recently ran an article on two climate independents already up and running in the Hughes electorate in Sydney. Hughes, of course, is the current home of Craig Kelly, serial climate change denier and now beneficiary of the Clive Palmer bankroll and all the baggage that contains including provoking the anti-vaxxer demonstrations influenced by right wing extremists. No doubt Kelly is one of many current MPs overdue for the dustbin of history and hopefully by the end of next year he will be gone. Rest assured that there will probably be a ‘football team’ field of candidates in his electorate and it will be interesting to see where the preferences go.

As the name indicates there is no guarantee how many Independent candidates will present themselves in any electorate and two or three is quite common, along with a few of the minor parties. In my first foray into federal politics at the 2013 election, there were 10 candidates in the seat of Gippsland. Without a large band of volunteers, how to vote cards (htvcs) and strong media presence the task for Independent candidates is formidable. Few of them issue htvcs. Out of the seven elections I have contested I did so only once – in 2014 and struggled to maintain a continuous htvc volunteer presence at a single polling booth (pre-poll) in the large Gippsland East electorate. As Ruth McGowan emphasised in Get Elected organisation and a large supporter base is essential for any chance of success. More on the matter of preferences on htvcs in a later blog.

Whilst The Guardian article noted “that disunity is death in politics” the problem in Hughes with its two groups with similar aims, similar policies and already announced rival candidates can be overcome. There is plenty of time for one to pull out in favour of the other and in the short term the rivalry helps publicise and promote the need to vote climate and to make this the main campaign issue. But when we finally get to election time the importance of the issue is paramount and leaves no room for personal ambition or rivalries. Good guides to a preferred climate candidates may be Independents CAN or Climate 200, and perhaps Vote Earth Now. Meanwhile it would be nice to have a similar problem in Gippsland.