Finally a climate election!
No-one will forget watching the results on Saturday 21st, glued to the screen, excitement mounting as results trickled, then flooded across the country. As Vote Compass reminds us, the top voting issue in all of our electorate is climate, and this issue was a strong factor in creating the huge shift away from the LNP. Instead ofpoliticians who offered “technology” (expensive carbon capture and storage) instead of accelerating the obvious shift to clean energy and storage, we have a new PM who talks of “renewable energy superpower.”
Yes all well and good you say, but Labor still refuses to give up on coal and gas. But Labor’s vote declined as well as the LNP’s while voters fled to the Greens and Independents, with much stronger climate policies. We now have a huge opportunity to support our new MPs, reminding them of the local climate volunteers power, skill and networks, where we can all collaboratively support good climate policy and accelerate the move to abundant renewables and a clean economy.
So how did we get here?
Let’s take a walk through some campaign highlights.
2021: Taking it to the streets
Our original plans for street conversations were knocked for six by Covid. Lighter Footprints hunkered down with Zoom meetings, focussing on Boroondara Council (wasn’t the Climate Emergency Declaration a great moment) and the Forum with Minister D’Ambrosio.
As soon as we emerged from the 2021 winter pandemic lockdown, we began street conversations again, drawing on resources and experience from the 2019 campaigns.
Lighter Footprints extended the Vote Climate campaign to neighbouring electorates, helping support local groups with Vigils on Friday mornings in Chisholm, and Thursday lunchtimes in Higgins – here are some photos from late 2021.
The Covid struck again and Australia was plunged into a mass pandemic.
Planning Day 2022 – held in person (barely)
Insights developed with our moderator Caterina Gaita, founder of the very successful Climate 4 Change movement, led us to the conclusion that we should put considerable effort into de-risking the climate vote, focussing on messages that climate action was good for our health, for jobs and the economy. We also decided to distribute a climate spin flyer, and developed a supporting page to debunk LNP claims about emissions reduction, which would be letterboxed along with a flyer about the Kooyong Candidates Forum.
Blogs completed include:
- Setting up the Vote Climate case: Reasons to Vote Climate
- Supporting EVs: Touring Tassie in a Tesla
- The inevitable transition to clean energy: Superpower with Simon Holmes à Court
- How the climate crisis affects our food systems: Climate change and food security
- More climate impacts that are becoming part of our lived reality: Floods and climate change
- The climate crisis doesn’t just affect the environment: Climate change and national security
- Climate action will improve our quality of life: The health impacts of climate change
- An explainer: Climate Change and action, an overview
- Supporting electrification, Saul Griffiths style: The Big Switch, Australia’s electric future
Kooyong Votes Climate Launch
KCCA and Lighter Footprints kicked off the Kooyong Vote Climate campaign proper at the end of March, you can follow the event on our Facebook album here.
Highlights included a rousing keynote from Amy Northwood, ACF, unpacking the huge survey results showing just how much climate was a central concern. We started with an introduction from Julia Croatto, a speech from school striker Nicola Franklin.
Alex Currell from the VCAN Scorecard Development Committee and leading light in KCCA unveiled the Kooyong Candidates Scorecard, with its rigorous mythology and scoring system. We also heard from Lynn Frankes on campaigning, Len and Penny on conversations.
Tim Worthington entertained us during sign ups, Ray, Leigh, Alison, Lynn, Julia and Tam continued on letterboxing, fence signs and conversations. The key takeaway was all those bundles ready to go!
The Great Climate Race – Chisholm
The Chisholm Vote Climate campaign decided to frame de-risking climate action by looking at the positive impact on increased jobs and lowered bills from increasing renewables and electrifying housing and transport.
Friends of the Earth’s Act on Climate campaign supported the Vote Climate work in Chisholm and Higgins at an organisational level including facilitating several major events in Chisholm. One of the most imaginative was the Great Climate Race – a graphic depiction of the major party climate targets on a running track, designed for aerial shooting.
What a huge effort from KCCA, Lighter Footprints, Higgins CAN, ECAM, and ACF local group volunteers – we letterboxed in Chisholm for the first time with a scorecard and letterboxed much of Kooyong and Higgins for the Candidate Forums – a double drop with campaign flyers, and right across the electorates with the Candidate Scorecards.
Our volunteers rose to the occasion on many occasions with multiple waves of flyers, cheerfully combining exercise with climate action.
Vote Climate Neighbours Project
To further help in de-risking the climate vote, the Vote Climate Neighbours project was started so local people could see others, real and complex, their neighbours putting climate and their kids first. This included collecting quotes, and making well illustrated profiles that included the particular concerns and hopes of our volunteers and their determination to help elect a climate champion, and associated social media tiles and posts.
Sarah Brennan, who contributed a Vote Climate Neighbours profile, was pleased to be working to accelerate the climate vote: “Seeing the electorate be engaged to take part in democracy, and advocate for action on climate change is a definite highlight for me. It’s nice to see that other like minded people are keen to bring this existential issue to the forefront of the election in the area when the main stream media, and parties are avoiding the topic.” Sarah has a low carbon lifestyle, and took a variety of volunteer roles in the campaign, including her graphic and comms skills.
Jackie Yowell, with a career in publishing, also contributed to Vote Climate Neighbours, and has written blogs extensively for the campaign. She has also volunteered for pre-poll, polling day and walked many miles for climate action.
You can also meet more of our volunteers in these profiles:
- Alison Wright very active in KKCA, also supporting Higgins
- Letter writer action group champion Ray Peck
- Co-convenor Mick Nolan
- Father of a young family Ben Pearson – using IT skills
- Retired CFO David Strang, convenor of the Energy Transition Group
- Pre-poll and polling day champion Annie Nihill
ACF’s Electric Vehicle event in Chisholm
One way to build support for climate action is to focus on a clearly beneficial transition – to electric vehicles – which would also help expand support across age ranges and demographics and bring in volunteers.
Plus who can resist a test ride?
Kooyong Candidate Forum
It’s always tricky trying to book a Town Hall for a Federal campaign forum, so Lighter Footprints is grateful to the Hawthorn Arts Centre for their flexibility. Once the election date seemed to be settling down for May the Forum Committee confirmed the 27th of April, the latter date that had been offered to the Candidates for just under six months.
After months of requests and many emails and phone calls with no definitive result, Minister Frydenberg finally confirmed from his office that he would not be attending the Kooyong Candidate Forum, which was a capacity crowd of over 500 people, practically all local constituents.
There was a considerable spat on social media, which escalated into mainstream media about the reason for Minister Frydenberg’s non-attendance. We replied in a dignified post, regretting his decision, but leaving the door open. Given the proliferation of empty chair memes and posts on social media, this may not have been a positive decision for the Treasurer. Alex Currell from the VCAN Scorecard Development Committee gave a concise summary of the LNP published policies on five climate criteria, and two integrity criteria. You can read about the Kooyong Candidate Scorecard here, including links to their published policies.
We were delighted to host Dr Peter Lynch from the ALP – view his statement here; Piers Mitchem from the Greens – view his statement here; and the independent challenger, Dr Monique Ryan – view her statement here. Our audience were reminded about why climate action is so important by listening to school climate activists Mia Harrison and Emily Harle – you can listen to them here. The Higgins Candidate Forum was moderated by Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, Strategic Director for Women’s Electoral Leadership Australia.
Thanks again to Ray Peck and the Lighter Footprints Committee who worked tirelessly on the Forum for months, especially all the letter droppers who helped with publicity in the midst of all their other work!
You can view the full length presentation on YouTube here.
Chisholm Candidate Forum
Local school climate activists organised a candidates forum in Chisholm for the end of April. Lighter Footprints assisted in publicising the forum, where constituents were able to ask questions on climate. Gladys Liu did not attend.
Higgins Candidate Forum
Climate and integrity, the big issues of the Federal Election, were hotly debated at Higgins Climate Action Network’s (Higgins CAN) Candidates Climate Forum on May 5 at Malvern Town Hall.
The last-minuted attendance by then sitting MP Dr Katie Allen forced a quick change of the evening’s run sheet. Dr Allen (Liberal), Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah (Labor), Sonya Semmens (Greens) and Andrew Johnson (Reason).
The biggest differences in viewpoints on the night were between Dr Allen and the other three candidates. Dr Allen was unhappy with the parameters of the type of integrity commission proposed by the Labor Party and also wanted a slower transition to net zero emissions compared with the other candidates.
The event was moderated by Dr Catherine Pendrey and headlined by entrepreneur and renewables industry thought leader Eytan Lenko who explained Australia was in a race for a clean economy and prosperous future.
Dr Pendrey is a former member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the Asia Pacific and has held senior roles in Doctors for the Environment Australia and Climate and Health Alliance.
Virginia Trioli in Higgins
Higgins had been pretty quiet in the media until the ABC broadcast just before pre-poll – Higgins CAN members were able to get in climate questions, and Dr Will Howard from Doctors for the Environment was given quite a lengthy interview, expressing voters concerns.
Pre-poll and Polling day
Our volunteers stepped up to hand out our non-partisan scorecards in all pre-poll booths in Higgins and Kooyong, as well as the major booth in Chisholm, despite many of us working hard for other campaigns!
Thanks so much to so many of you who worked extra shifts for very long hours.
Higgins CAN organised an action at pre-poll on the Saturday 14th with the Climate Choir, despite the rain, the signing, dinosaurs and even a bit of dancing were much appreciated!
Jackie Yowell offered warmth to many and persevered: “I have been a volunteer at election booths before, but never quite like this time. The necessity to be non-partisan was a personal challenge: to offer the warmest smile to those least likely to stop and engage. Most didnt, but every time a person was about to stride on, often with a fistful of leaflets, yet stopped to take a scorecard when it was proffered, with a very friendly nod, as ‘ a guide to them all’, I felt triumphant!
Even if this voter had already made up their mind, I thought, the scorecard may yet end up on a kitchen table where someone in that household might be prompted by it to think twice about the issues it scores. Possibly even join one of our climate action networks.
How wonderful by the end of last night to feel that enough voters were already thinking about these issues enough to bring the results we now know! Hurrah for all who worked for them.”
Lynn Frankes spent a lot of time organising rosters, coreflutes, booth packs and wrangling volunteers. She also put in a full day at Auburn South Primary School “which meant getting up at 6:15 (I am not an early riser) and staying till stumps. I wimped out and closed up at 5pm because it was so quiet (and cold). I had help from some lovely volunteers during parts of the day because the booth really did need two volunteers. The highlight for me was meeting a year 12 student who was manning the booth for Labor on his own for most of the day. He was so keen, so dedicated, so knowledgeable he almost made up for the legions of young liberals rocking up with their parents and only taking the Liberal HTV and the young families with babies in the pram doing the same. That always gets to me. It is about their future after all.”
Chisholm Campaign Highlights
Some people waved our card away and said they had seen it, to which we said but this is an updated version with the Senate on the back. “Oh great” was a frequent answer. A lot of people really liked the guidance for the Senate. I could see the value of recognition of our scorecard that was delivered prior, and then recognized on election day.
School strikers and the very last Frydo Friday
Yes it was billed as (maybe) the last Frydo Friday. So many years outside our incumbent’s office, asking yet again for real climate action, pulling together the community to support a mandate for change.
The school strikers have been constant reminders to the Environment Minister, and then the Treasurer that the environment should come before coal mines, that our future should matter more than splurging public money on gas expansion.
Why should it be up to the kids?
And last time in 2019, helping to create an very large swing against national trends. And this time?
We worked, we walked, we talked, we letterboxed, we placarded, we posted, we pre-polled, we wrote, we yelled, we cried.. and on Saturday night we laughed with joy.
Celebration at the Elgin Hotel
Lighter Footprints and other local climate group members gathered with supporters at the Elgin Hotel for drinks and nibbles to recap, reset and toast victory in the three target electorates – Kooyong, Higgins and Chisholm.
With a debrief from ACF’s Campaign Director Paul Sinclair, the meeting was a time for a reset and hatching plans for the upcoming State election. Support yes, but what about forests and gas? Maybe more pressure on the Liberals might just allow Labor some breathing space and courage to accelerate climate action in Victoria.