Climate advocates clamour to address policy wonks with changed government

By Melissa Coade

Tuesday May 24, 2022

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie. (AAP Image/Mark Brake)

With the Greens enjoying a swing in voter support at the federal election, and a wave of so-called ‘teal independents’ who have toppled at least five sitting Liberal members, the question is how the next government will take action on climate change to the satisfaction of all. 

The Climate Council, which has called out dubious election claims about climate change over the past few weeks, said the outcome of the weekend’s election made a clear statement: the voting public wants politicians to act on climate. The advocacy group believes Labor’s climate commitments are too slow and not ambitious enough. 

The five issues the advocates say the new government should tackle include transforming Australia into a climate leader, fixing existing energy policies, ending government-backed fossil fuel expansion, and strengthening transparency and accountability. 

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said the issue was a matter of ‘fury and frustration’ over a decade of federal inaction, transcending the divide between city-dwellers and people living in regional Australia. 

“Over almost nine years in office, the Liberal-National Government’s approach to climate action ranged from inadequate to non-existent. Australians are paying a heavy price for that, and they have made their feelings known,” McKenzie said.  

“Mr Morrison’s time as prime minister was bookended by two climate-fuelled disasters – first fires, then floods – that brought home to many of us exactly what is at stake. 

The task ahead for the new Australian government was to make a ‘sharp correction’, the former lawyer said, to divert away from the climate catastrophe the country was on course to reach. 

McKenzie urged the Albanese government to repair Australia’s damaged international reputation on climate change, starting with this week’s Quad meeting in Japan

“Australians deserve a federal government that recognises the scale of the challenge before us, and the pace of action that’s required. We cannot afford to waste a single more day,” McKenzie said. 

“We are one of the sunniest and windiest countries on earth – the opportunities and advantages we have are off the charts. But only if we grasp them, and fast,” she added.

Among the independents who won huge voter swings in favour of more decisive climate action were Victorians Helen Haines, Monique Ryan and Zoe Daniel. In NSW, Kylea Tink, Sophie Scamps and Zali Steggall stormed ahead to topple incumbent MPs. And David Pocock in the ACT also rode a wave of support with a strong environmental agenda. 

Greens leader Adam Bandt labelled the weekend’s election success as a ‘Greens-slide’. Two more Greens from Queensland (representing the electorates of Griffith and Ryan) will join the Melbourne MP in the lower house, and the progressive minor party has won the balance of power in the senate. A total of 12 Greens politicians will sit in the new parliament. 

“I am so proud of our community-driven people-powered movement and especially welcome the massive turnout of young people, many of whom are voting for the first time who have backed the Greens,” Bandt said in a statement. 

“This is just the next step in the growth of our movement for climate action and to end inequality. We will continue to go from strength to strength in the community, in the streets and in the parliament.”

Bandt flew up to Brisbane to celebrate his party’s success with Elizabeth Watson-Brown, Max Chandler-Mather, and Queensland senator-elect Penny Allman-Payne. He said the popularity of the Greens was clearly a mandate for government action on climate and inequality issues.

“Voters have made it clear they want the Greens to push the Albanese government to go further and faster on climate change and inequality,” Bandt said. 

“We want to work with Anthony Albanese to deliver the stable, effective, progressive government that Australians have voted for, but he will need to work constructively with the Greens and the rest of the crossbench.”


READ MORE:

Teal, yes — but what shade of teal?

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