The Big Teal by Simon Holmes à Court is much more than a fascinating timeline and ‘how to’ booklet for aspiring teal movements; it has the power to light fire in the bellies of ordinary constituents in ‘impossibly conservative’ seats, to strive for and achieve better political outcomes for their communities.
This terrific little book explains the “teal movement” in a clear and accessible format. Holmes à Court lays out its historical background detailing his quest for better solutions to the largely two party representation that Australian voters are stuck with.
Holmes à Court’s evolutionary beginnings were piqued in a community wind farm project back in 2004. His expertise in the tech world, his reputation as a business savvy operator with connections and a passion for clean energy led to the birth of Climate 200. The baby developed and resulted in a very changed Australia after the 2022 elections.
Climate 200 gets its name from Josh Frydenberg’s Kooyong 200, a dollar donation number that gets you within earshot of the now deposed member for Kooyong. Holmes à Court was once a member.
Climate 200 was buttressed by other heavyweights: Julia Banks, Tony Windsor, John Hewson, Meg Lees and Barry Jones. In all, twenty-two federal candidates received support from Climate 200 on a platform of climate, integrity in politics and gender equity. And the movement attracted the support of more than 20,000 volunteers.
There are history lessons here too. We are reminded that the RET (Renewable Energy Target) was actually given life by John Howard. And that Tony Abbott trashed Julia Gillard‘s carbon price and replaced it with the “fig-leaf” policy of Direct Action, “that would serve to give the Coalition government cover for not having a credible plan to reduce emissions”.
Holmes à Court crucially touches on the role of the Kitchen Table Conversation (KTC) community building strategy developed by Mary Crooks and the Victorian Women’s Trust.
There is so much to be taken from this tiny book but if the reader takes nothing else, it should be the usefulness of KTCs in harnessing the strength and abilities of local communities and how people power can triumph over money and populism.
*the author is a member of East Gippsland Climate Action Network