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Conservationists to target 'middle Australia' in election climate push

Posted by On 2:10 AM

Conservationists to target 'middle Australia' in election climate push

Climate change Conservationists to target 'middle Australia' in election climate push

ACF aims to pour resources into three marginal seats to inflict electoral pain on major parties for policy failures

Climate concerns were a big issue in the Wentowrth byelection which saw independent Karryn Phelps unseat the Liberals.
Climate concerns were a big issue in the Wentowrth byelection which saw independent Karryn Phelps unseat the Liberals. Photograph: Carly Earl for the Guardian

The Australian Conservation Foundation will target three marginal seats in Victoria and Queensland in a bid to pus h “middle Australia” to demand more action on climate change, its chief executive has said.

Kelly O’Shanassy made the comments at the National Press Club on Tuesday, unveiling the environmental group’s election action plan to break the political deadlock over climate change.

The ACF will target the Victorian seats of Chisholm, currently held by Liberal MP Julia Banks, and McNamara, held by retiring Labor MP Michael Danby, along with Bonner in Queensland where the incumbent is Liberal MP Ross Vasta.

Banks has announced she will not recontest her seat as a Liberal, leading to speculation she could run as an independent; while McNamara will likely be a repeat of the three-cornered contest between Labor, Liberal and the Greens at the 2016 election.

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O’Shanassy said the group chose the “middle Australian marginal seats” because it wanted to “move t he country forward on climate change”. One third of voters in the seats had climate change as their top concern,a dynamic the ACF hoped would create a “race to the top” on climate policy.

Climate policy is set to be a key issue in the 2019 election, with Labor promising the national energy guarantee or something similar to achieve a 45% reduction in carbon emissions from electricity by 2030, and the Greens promising to push Labor to be “as ambitious as it possibly can be”.

On Tuesday, the University of New South Wales released a report, commissioned by the mining union, calling for a new federal government authority to manage the closure of coal power plants rather than leave the timing and conditions to power companies.

Australia has 23 coal-fired power stations forecast by their operators to be closed by 2050. The report argues the government should manage the transition by creating an energy transition authority, investing in public sector infrastru cture to generate employment and promoting new hubs for hi-tech industries and services.

The Morrison government has stared down calls from Coalition conservatives to withdraw Australia from the Paris climate agreement and abolish small-scale renewables subsidies, but has shelved the emissions reduction component of the Neg and refused to rule out measures to support new coal-fired power stations.

O’Shanassy took aim at Scott Morrison for claiming Australia will meet its 2030 climate targets “in a canter â€" despite the evidence showing otherwise”, the environment minister Melissa Price for saying that getting rid of coal to save the Great Barrier Reef was a “long bow” and Bill Shorten “ says coal will be part of our future”.

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O’Shanassy said Morrison was “harming his constituents and all Australians and doing so with his eyes wide open” by “dismiss ing climate change [and] being a spruiker for the coal industry”.

“Right now, it doesn’t look good. Australia is in a climate policy deadlock. We are nowhere after two decades.”

O’Shanassy said the blame should lie “at the feet of the pollies” but the environment movement is also “a little culpable” for “missteps”.

In response to a later question, O’Shanassy said she was referring to opposition to Kevin Rudd’s proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme, which was blocked by the Greens and Liberals, and not opposition to the Turnbull government’s Neg.

She said the Neg “would’ve reduced the amount of clean energy in Australia” which made it a “bad, bad policy”, so the ACF resolved to not oppose the Neg architecture and instead encourage states and the next federal government to raise the emissions reduction target.

O’Shanassy said the ACF will make the 2019 election “the climate election” so the major party with “the strongest climate policy” would win.

Its policy aims are to “repower Australia with clean electricity by 2030”, move towards zero net pollution before 2050 and prevent new coal mines.

The ACF aims to have one million conversations with voters about climate change, including 15,000 in its three target seats. It will distribute scorecards rating parties’ policies but will not tell people how to vote.

O’Shanassy said that “asking nicely with policy in hand and evidence that stacks up” had failed to guarantee climate action, so the ACF was now focused on developing community campaigns to “move stubborn governments” and inflict “electoral pain” on parties without a proper climate policy.

Topics
  • Climate change
  • Australian politics
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Source: Google Australia | Netizen 24 Australia

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