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Voters looking for climate and clean energy leadership following federal election

By Jono La Nauze - posted Thursday, 9 June 2022

The federal election heralded a seismic shift in Australian politics and provided a much needed ray of hope for the clear majority of Australians who are now deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change and are tired of waiting for real action.

With the votes barely counted, the nation is now gripped by an extraordinary energy crisis described by new federal treasurer Jim Chalmers as a "perfect storm" and Australian Industry Group Chief Innes Willox as "apocalyptic".

Coming at the start of an icy winter that has seen gas demand increase by 34.6% in May alone, the fossil fuel price hike has dramatically crystallised the reality that the only pathway out of this pain is through accelerating the transition to clean energy - a point on which environmentalists and industry are in furious agreement.


With the Victorian state election on the horizon, Labor and Liberal campaign teams will have one eye on the unfolding energy crisis and another on the wave of voter demand for climate action that has elected Green and teal MPs from Melbourne to Brisbane.

Now more than ever, the solution to both these challenges is the same. The sooner we replace expensive coal, oil and gas with abundant sun and wind, the sooner we unhitch our wagon from the bucking bronco of global fossil fuel markets and the climate carnage that comes with it.

After all, what we saw play out federally was not by chance. It was a response to real, experienced climate extremes wreaking havoc in the form of floods and fires across the nation. It was a reaction to extreme prices at the petrol pump and skyrocketing energy bills, whilst our federal government threw more of our money at the very gas industry making record profits from sending Australian gas offshore.

That public sentiment coalesced in a massive uptick in voter demand for climate action. Analysis from the Climate Council shows that in almost 90% of electorates (132 out of 151), climate change was rated as the key election issue by more than one in five voters.

It was also a story of the grassroots rising up and changing the political course of the nation - and this was particularly true in Victoria.

Buoyed by their evident success federally, the same grassroots citizen movements who organised school strikes, knocked on doors and spoke up in the years leading up to the federal election will be out in force again in Victoria this November, having the same one-to-one conversations that changed the nation.


So what implications does this have for Matthew Guy and Daniel Andrews?

Andrews has already made significant headway lowering emissions and advancing clean energy and his plan for a massive 9-gigawatt offshore wind farm in Gippsland will create an entirely new clean energy sector in Victoria. He needs to build on this - and fast-tracking the Gas Substitution Roadmap while increasing Victoria's Renewable Energy Target to 100% by 2030 would be a bold and vote winning way to get there.

For Matthew Guy, having attempted to rebrand his state Liberal party away from climate laggard status is a step in the right direction, voters will want to see substantive policies that show clear evidence that (unlike Morrison) Guy's climate conversion is genuine - and they will want to see the details before the election.

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About the Author

Jono La Nauze is CEO of Environment Victoria.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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