Australia Elections: Major parties are largely silent on climate change

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LISMORE, AUSTRALIA – The parade was held for a hundred years, but never happened.

The river, with a population of 30,000, engulfed the city in two months of unprecedented flooding. The two-storey buildings have been submerged. Cars and planes were blown around like toys. Hundreds of residents were trapped on the roof and on the roof. Four die, and thousands are left homeless.

Now, for the ANZAC Day parade, the streets were lined with people, but also piles of deformed wood and ruined driveways. The rolled shops are empty, their floors are marble Dry mud

“It’s just catastrophic,” Max Graham said while watching the parade with his family. The 71-year-old said he did not think too much about climate change, but now there is nothing to ignore.

“How can you say that this is not happening at a time when we are experiencing severe bush fires, severe droughts, severe floods?”

The rising frequency and intensity of natural disasters has pushed concerns about climate change to an all-time high in Australia. Still, the country is not a major party as it moves toward a federal election on Saturday There is a lot of talk about it.

Because both the ruling Conservative Alliance and the opposition Labor Party fear losing seats in the coal mining area. Instead, they have focused on economic issues, from rising inflation to unemployment and housing prices.

But in the handful of constituencies where Lismore has pages, a loosely connected slate of independent candidates is fueling climate talks and threatening to snatch long-held seats from the coalition. If elected, they could form an important swing bloc in parliament, demand faster emissions reduction and change the reputation of Australia, which lags behind the international climate.

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Conservative Malcolm Turnbull said: “In some constituencies, it’s just climate change. The former prime minister who was ousted by the coalition in 2018 for taking action on the issue. A climate-centric individual is vying for his former seat.

Australia’s climate complexities, like Page’s, have seldom taken place, with interviews of two dozen voters reflecting growing recognition of man-made climate change – but also a long-standing divide over when and how to act.

“Australia is being devastated by the ongoing catastrophe,” said Eli Bird, an independent Lismore city councilor who assisted in flood relief. State and federal officials were slow to respond when rescued. “You have to live under a rock to understand what this means for us.”

‘The front lines of climate change’

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in late April, dozens of people filled an organic grocery store in the village of Ulmara, about an hour south of Lismore. Many wore t-shirts to promote independent candidate Hannabeth Luke.

Luke, an agronomist wearing leather boots and a felt hat, told them he was inspired by the coalition’s inaction on climate change.

“I’m not the one who sits down when a challenge comes up,” he said. “As an independent, I can stand up for you, fight for us, our families and our farms and our future. Because there is no party on the road.”

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Analysts say Australia’s powerful political party system has blocked action against climate change. A razor-thin majority in parliament has allowed more conservative members of the coalition, the National Party, to veto even more popular, mainstream measures. Australia was one of the last developed countries to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.

Middle-right Liberal Party Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought to neutralize climate change as an issue with a net-zero pledge from urban moderates, promising rural voters that it would not cost coal work or raise electricity prices.

Rob Hales, director of the Griffith Center for Sustainable Enterprise, noted Promises rely heavily on unproven or still invented technology.

Turnbull said his successor was not “extremely inspired” by the issue of climate change.

“He is a very political person and he sees it as a hopelessly divisive and destructive problem,” he said. “So he doesn’t want to touch it.”

Morrison’s office declined an interview request and did not answer questions.

A spokesman said in a statement that “only the coalition government can be trusted to strike a balance between maintaining a reliable and affordable power, while reducing emissions.”

There are more aggressive plans to reduce labor emissions, backed by many large business groups, yet it is not screaming from the roof. Due to an unexpected defeat in the last election, when more ambitious climate policy intimidated some coal country voters, leader Anthony Albanese has turned his attention instead. On initiatives such as affordable child care and nursing home reform.

It has an opening left for the individual.

Luke is one of 22 candidates backed by Climate 200, a political action committee set up by Simon Holmes a Court. The court in Holmes said PAC has spent more than $ 7 million to support individuals who advocate for a science-based solution to climate change, a federal anti-corruption watchdog and gender equality.

“In a normal world they would be quite gentle,” he said “But in a world without Australian politics, the government sees all three as a threat.”

The PAC is having the most impact in a socially liberal, financially conservative constituency where frustration with moderate responsible for climate change is growing.

Independents – many political newcomers – have put some liberal strongholds in the game. In Melbourne, Morrison’s treasurer is under threat from a pediatric neurologist. And in Turnbull’s former seat in Sydney, another Liberal Party star is facing tough tests from a familiar daughter. Fashion designer.

Turnbull said he was not supporting independents, but that some handful of changes in parliament could be “helpful” for the next government to move more aggressively on climate change.

In the Lismore area, which has been swayed by labor and alliances, Luke has long faced adversity.

His story is useful for a constituency that combines coastal and agricultural lands, and has faced crises. She survived the 2002 Bali bombings, an incident that killed her then-boyfriend and sparked her activism. A skilled surfer and Marine Rescue volunteer who helped rescue people during the floods, he was instrumental in the area’s decision to ban coal seam gas extraction.

Luke, who teaches regenerative agriculture at Southern Cross University, was grading late last year when a student’s paper inspired him to run. Already in debt, the farmer writes that he is struggling to recover from the bush fire that burned his drought-stricken land. Bernabe Joyce, deputy prime minister and national leader, claimed the net-zero promise would hurt farmers.

“I knew he was wrong because I work with farmers,” Luke said. “They are at the forefront of climate change.”

Farmers were in the crowd at the organic grocery store. Joe Waring, 76, said most of his pasture had been washed away by the floods. He was disappointed that Labor candidate Patrick Degan was not talking more about climate change.

Degan has denied any involvement.

“The Labor Party is a really intelligent center for climate change,” he said.

When a reporter for The Post made no mention of climate change on its website, Degan said it was a reckless boycott. Two weeks later, it was unchanged.

Current, National Party member Kevin Hogan, who won by hand in 2019, did not respond to a request for comment.

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The disaster has shed light on climate change, a potential impetus for Luke’s campaign. But it has hampered it, forcing him to cancel his launch and complicating efforts to introduce him to voters. There were signs that his time was running out.

“I was just on the side of the road and the woman who was serving there never heard of you,” Hillary Sadler, 75, told Luke. “I’m going to get him a brochure.”

‘We’re all still hurt’

As soon as the water rose to Melody Mandeno’s waist, she called out to her son.

Can you do it on the roof, he asked. But the 70-year-old said it was impossible. Mandeno could not swim. Floating her furniture around her, she could barely make it across the living room.

Neighbors told him not to worry: the nearby river might rise high enough to flood his basement, but he would be safe upstairs. Now his neighborhood Was A river.

After waiting for hours, Mandeno heard a motor. A man in a private boat told her to get up with her dog and cat through her window and back.

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Two months later, Lismore was a ghost town. Every house in the neighborhood was burnt down. The yards are piled up in ruins. The dirt was covered with dirt stains: a toothbrush, board games, a “Conan: the Avenger” comic book.

Almost everyone had a story like Mandeno. The flood action seemed like climate change.

“When you got such a big flood, I don’t know how you got there No. I think it was climate change, “said Lisa Cameron, 49, outside her flooded home. It now carries a look poster.

Tony Perfit saw water rising around his bed-bound wife and feared he would drown in front of her. They were able to get him out of harm’s way as soon as his neighbor swam away. At last the good Samaritans were rescued by a boat through the window of their living room. Several of their dogs have drowned.

Parfit did not think climate change had played a role in the floods. But liberal voters still plan to punish the party on election day.

“They didn’t do much for the flood victims, did they?” He said. The government offered to pay about 2,000 to each affected homeowner. But Perfit, who could not afford flood insurance, estimated the loss at least $ 70,000. His wife continues to have nightmares of rising water.

“We’re all still hurt,” he said.

The mayor of Lismore, Steve Craig, called on the ANZAC Day crowd to emulate and rebuild the resilience of the war generation. Some have suggested relocating the town to higher ground, but Craig, whose own home and coffee shop have been flooded, has been ridiculed.

“We can’t throw towels after a natural disaster,” he told the Post.

But it was not a disaster. One month after the flood, the city was flooded again. Which has caused three major floods in five years. Determining how climate change affects a particular event is difficult, however Scientists say the trend is clear: global warming means more frequent and severe natural disasters.

This trend was evident in downtown, where a sign of a building shows previous flood records, set in 1974. Now a new line has been added with spray paint – seven feet high.

Matthew Graham, 37, a parade participant, said climate change would “dramatically” affect his vote. Despite his own climate awakening, his father was immobile.

“I’ve voted for the Liberal Party all my life,” said Max Graham. “I’ll never change that.”

Frances Vinal contributed to this report.

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