By Sarah Russell*
POLLS repeatedly show that climate change is one of the most important issues for Australians. It is also widely accepted that the Coalition lost the last election because of their woeful inaction on climate, with a wave of climate action community independents replacing Liberal MPs.
Mornington Peninsula residents are aware of the impact of climate change and want to protect our beautiful environment. Despite this, our MP for Flinders, Zoe McKenzie, voted against Labor’s Climate Change Bill 2022.
Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer was the only Liberal MP to cross the floor to support Labor’s Climate Change Bill, stating that her northern Tasmanian community expected her to vote in support of action on climate change.
We also need a federal MP who will reflect the local community’s support for real action on climate change. We need a federal MP who will advocate for the peninsula to be part of the sustainable energy solution.
The Coalition’s protracted inaction on climate change has come at a great cost to Australia, both economically and in the damage done to Australia’s reputation globally, with some Liberal and National MPs continuing to reject the scientific evidence of human-induced climate change.
Recently we saw the news that former prime minister Tony Abbott has joined the board of Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK climate sceptic think tank, saying “we need more genuine science and less group think”, clearly choosing to ignore decades of genuine science.
The Liberal Party is committed to the continuation of Australia’s coal and gas industries. Their goal remains 26-28 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, consistent with a very dangerous 3℃ of global warming.
The Flinders electorate deserves an MP who will genuinely represent local residents and not just blindly follow the party line. However, we live in a blue-ribbon federal electorate. Since 1945, Liberals have represented Flinders for 75 years and Labor for only three years.
To ensure residents in the Flinders electorate have genuine representation in federal parliament, people who care about our environment, biodiversity and wildlife need to collaborate. We need a MP in federal parliament who advocates for a just transition away from fossil fuels.
To kick off a conversation about collaboration, we recently held a get-together for those who support community independents, Labor, the Greens and the Animal Justice Party. We named the gathering Progressives of the Peninsula (PoP).
Some 70 people came together to eat, drink and talk about how we can all work better together. We believe we will be much stronger if progressives build on what unites us – strong climate action, social justice, gender and race equality and kindness.
With our preferential voting system, elections are never two horse races. Take for example the recent Victorian election for Mornington. Dr Kate Lardner, a community independent with support from Climate 200, nearly got over the line thanks to preferences from Labor, the Greens and the Animal Justice Party.
People at the gathering voted unanimously to collaborate, with Marg D’Arcy (Labor), Paul Sanders (Greens) and Katrina Larson (Animal Justice Party) speaking about the benefits of working collaboratively.
We have established a small working group to continue a conversation about collaboration. We are also planning more get togethers across the Flinders electorate.
Progressives of the Peninsula will meet again in Balnarring in April. To join the mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Sarah Russell stood as an independent candidate for the seat of Flinders at the November 2022 federal election won by Liberal Zoe McKenzie.