SYDNEY (CU)_Over the past few months, several parts of Australia have been reporting some of the worst floods ever to hit the country. Last week, the state of Queensland recorded its sixth flooding event since December last year, prompting emergency flood alerts for several south-east parts of the state. The extreme weather events were reported just a week ahead of the federal election which is scheduled to be held on 21 May.
As the global community races against the clock to tackle the ongoing climate crisis, the government of Australia has been largely criticised for its lack of commitment towards these efforts. Now with the elections just around the corner, a group of climate-conscious independents are threatening to shake up the upcoming vote, putting the federal government under pressure in key districts and potentially reshaping Australia’s political landscape.
These candidates, who are enraged by Canberra’s insufficient climate action, are campaigning hard on environmental issues with hopes of luring moderate voters away from the major parties. The group includes more than 20 independent candidates, who are running for seats in mostly urban, traditionally conservative districts. Some of their funding is drawn from a fund known as Climate 200, which was set up three years ago to support candidates looking to advance climate policy.
“There is deep frustration that real action hasn’t been taken on climate change,” Allegra Spender, an independent candidate in the Sydney electoral district of Wentworth, said. “It’s become ideological rather than based on science and business, and that’s what people are seeking: just a rational, proportional response to the evidence,” the former analyst with McKinsey & Co added.
Reflecting the combination of their ‘green’ stance on the climate crisis and their appeal to ‘blue’ moderate liberals, about half a dozen of these candidates have come to be known as the “teal independents”. According to recent opinion polls, the group appears to be gaining traction among voters with their policies on the environment, gender equality and anti-corruption, posing a threat to major parties which have trodden lightly around the climate issue.