For more than a dozen years I have been a champion of climate independent candidacy in Gippsland –many my own – but including a growing number of candidates at a local level. In East Gippsland in 2020 a third of the independent candidates elected to council were supporters of East Gippsland Climate Action Network. But it has been at a Federal level, where the reactionary ‘climate dinosaurs’ of the LNP have ruled for 10 years, that suitable candidates of this kind have been lacking. This has all changed dramatically with the exponential growth of the ‘Voices’ movement, with many candidates now under the umbrella of the Climate 200 organisation.
The voters of west and south Gippsland have had a ‘voices’ group – Voices of Monash – for some months and they have chosen Deb Leonard of Phillip Island as their candidate. On her website Deb notes “Climate change action needs to happen today…. We need urgent, science based, climate action. We don’t have to choose between environment and economy – each can coexist and improve the other. Climate change action does not mean sacrifice – it means building, prospering, and future proofing. It will lead to lower costs of living, more jobs, and a thriving future.”
Deb is “a community backed Independent” and wants a just transition for the coal workers in the Latrobe Valley – “I am hearing our community wants a transition plan out of coal to ensure the workforce future employment.” She is a strong supporter of investment in renewable energy and notes that it “is already cheaper than fossil fuels, employs more people – particularly in regional Australia – and can be rapidly expanded”.
Deb supports ‘green hydrogen’- as opposed to the ‘brown (coal based) hydrogen’ currently being produced by a pilot plant in the Valley – and is a strong advocate of electric vehicles. She advocates subsidies and strong government support for electric vehicles as well as for residential rooftop solar. These policies will: “create local jobs, boost the economy, lower the cost of living for the community, and benefit the environment”.
Deb is opposing incumbent Russell Broadbent who recently declared his antediluvian views on vaccination to Federal parliament. The Monash electorate needs to change with the times, as does that of Gippsland. A primary vote for Deb, especially from the centre and moderate areas of politics, is a step in the right direction and a vote in support of reason and science.