At each election, the ballots are full of independent candidates. But this time around, there is a new category of people pushing to win your vote: the climate independents. But who are they and how could they seriously shake up the next election?
To put it simply, the so-called “climate independents” are independent political candidates focused primarily on climate issues (duh), running for federal parliament in 2022 and backed by one of the largest political donation funds in the world. Australian history.
Sounds like a good thing, right? Healthy for democracy and all that jazz.
Let’s get a few things straight.
What is the objective of these climate independents?
To topple Coalition politicians who have been let loose in climate action such as Tim wilson to Goldstein, treasurer Josh frydenberg to Kooyong and Minister of Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus taylor in Hume.
The strategy marks a break with the tactics of groups such as Get up! the last election failed to overthrow extremely conservative liberals such as Peter Dutton.
This time, the focus is on overthrowing the moderate Liberals.
Where are these climate independents based?
At the time of writing, seven climate independents are running for seats in New South Wales, four in Vic, one in QLD and one in South Africa.
Full list of new candidates is updated as they are announced (yes, we know this is a Wiki page, but for all intents and purposes every bit of information has been sourced).
How are they funded?
These new candidates are funded by a huge political war chest put together by the son of Australia’s first billionaire – Simon Holmes in Court. The funding pool obtains donations of philanthropists, businessmen and many ordinary Australians.
The fund is called Climate 200 and was established prior to the 2019 federal election. He argued Zali Steggall who overthrew the ex-PM Tony Abbot in Warringa.
Although the current amount is unknown, Age reported that the fund contained $ 4.6 million earlier in December.
Who supports the climate independents?
It’s still early days and as the old saying goes, the only poll that matters is the election day poll. However, many political actors have put their voice (and their money) behind them.
According to The Guardian, liberal ex-PM Malcolm Turnbull said the move was “very healthy” and that “many voters in the mainstream liberal party clearly feel the party has moved to the right on a bunch of issues, especially the climate.”
On the other side of politics, the Sydney Morning Herald reports as the first ever Green donor Graeme Wood quit the party to pledge his dollars to climate independents.
Should I vote for climate independents?
This is where it gets complicated.
While the climate independents claim to run against the Liberals, many of them are in fact former members of the Liberal Party.
Despite this, many of them are not old Libs.
Most climate independents just want to offer voters an alternative to liberal MPs who drag their feet and know that historically the seats they target are occupied by socially and environmentally progressive voters (yay LGBT + rights and solar panels) but economically conservative (yes postage credits and owning 11 homes).
In such seats, a climate independent might have a better chance of overthrowing the current Liberal than a Labor or Green candidate.
If you live in a Liberal-owned seat and hate it, you might at least want to have a quick Google to look at your options.
What will they do if they are elected?
As they are independent, policies change on a case-by-case basis. However, they all say they are in favor of new climate measures.
If there is a parliament without a majority (where no major party forms a majority government), they might have a lot of power to influence legislation and leverage their climate priorities.
David Pocock announces he will try his luck in federal politics after a decorated rugby career https://t.co/ljnx4X1aBe
– ABC News (@abcnews) December 16, 2021
If Labor or the coalition form a majority government, climate independents will have near zero influence, similar to the current position of Zali Steggall.
Due to Australia’s preferential voting system, even though these independents do not win their seats, they will be required to give their vote to a candidate who voted higher – most likely one of a large party.
In this case, they would be back to where they started since their original goal was to provide an alternative to the big parties.
Independent of the climate, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?
While climate action is a big issue for many Australians, we need to recognize that these candidates are running on the climate as the main issue and NOT on workers’ issues, economic justice, housing affordability, the fight against corruption, refugee rights or improving our public education system. .
This is mainly because the voters in these liberal-owned electorates are (largely) socially and environmentally progressive, but economically conservative, as we established earlier.
Moreover, the root of many of our climate problems is actually economic.
The reason Australia still has raging coal mines is because they are profitable.
On the surface, these center-left-center-right-I’m confused-now climate contenders seem reluctant to admit that many of the structural causes of Australia’s current climate problems are rooted in the frenzied pursuit of profit, sustained in large part by successive liberal governments driven by an economically conservative ideology.
But at the end of the day, it’s not a perfect world. So if a climate candidate can topple a Josh Frydenberg like a useless slug, why not just say “fuck it” and let him rip?
Image: Instagram / @zoedaniel / @davidpocock / Getty Images / Sam Mooy /