Zali Steggall proclaimed she would fight for her signature campaign promise – “climate change” – and hold the government to account on the environment in her victory speech. She won her seat in CM’s own electorate of Warringah. That is democracy. No, CM did not vote for her. The result stands, despite a despicable campaign against the incumbent which included leaving faeces outside his office.
Sadly for Steggall, the broader Australian public repudiated climate change given the terrible performance of the Greens and Labor who pushed this cornerstone uncosted agenda. Climate evangelist Independent Dr Kerryn Phelps lost her seat of Wentworth despite the same endorsement from former UN climate chief Christina Figueres. Julia Banks also fell despite receiving the global warming high priestess’ praises. Climate change wasn’t the key issue for those wealthy latte-sipping constituents across the harbour in Wentworth, just as they weren’t for Warringah.
Steggall had one role – to oust the 25-year incumbent former PM Tony Abbott. She succeeded. It was a mission unlike any other seen in Aussie politics. She had 1,400 people to help her. “Vote 1 Zali Steggall” placards adorned many doors in CM’s neighbourhood. CM always thought sticking an Abbott poster outside one’s house would incite an act of hatred. On election day we got proof of that, including a stabbing. Alex Turnbull even called Abbott a “terrorist”. If there were more terrorists like him we would have fewer bushfires and fewer deaths at sea. Imagine if he accepts the Ambassador to the US role. ScoMo can hardly pick Julie Bishop especially after Bill Shorten endorsed her. CM digresses.
Although Steggall denied the role of activist group GetUp! during the campaign, she has now acknowledged its role. She said,
“I think some of [GetUp!’s] aspects have been divisive … but on the other hand, they have raised the profile of climate change…They are here to raise awareness of issues and, for me, that is part of democracy. We are all the better for having the variety of issues and debate and opinions at the table.”
GetUp! didn’t get much bang for the $13.5mn outside of Abbott. Peter Dutton in the seat of Dickson, Queensland and Christian Porter in the electorate of Pearce, Western Australia both increased their margin. GetUp!’s other targets – Greg Hunt, Kevin Andrews and Josh Frydenberg in Victoria as well as Nicolle Flint in South Australia, suffered swings against them but all kept their seats. Perhaps they may feel better knowing Clive Palmer won nothing with his $60mn advertising blitz although already Labor sooks are complaining this was indirect spending on the Libs campaign.
In 2022, if Steggall chooses to run, it is unlikely she’ll get anywhere near that level of backing. She is a one term MP. The Liberals will put forward a new candidate who isn’t Abbott. Like Sharma in Wentworth, the Liberals should retake the seat. Steggall won’t have 1,400 volunteers to support her. Nor $13.5mn in GetUp! Backing. If Morrison gets a majority then her vote will be useless in the lower house. She will have served her purpose. If she has any chance of winning she’ll need to trade in the Nissan Pathfinder.
Steggall might do her best to push climate change in parliament for her luxury SUV loving constituents but it will be to no avail. Her biggest global warming sponsors, Labor, will be desperate to find a leader to pull them back from the left. Sadly the first two candidates – Plibersek (who has now stepped away) and Albanese – are of the left and the third suggestion is Jim Chalmers, who was a principle advisor to Rudd. Even Chris Bowen has announced he might run. If they have to bring a new platform, it can’t be the politics of envy and class warfare nor loony uncosted climate change targets nor identity. A new Labor leader will have a lot of trouble reuniting such unmitigated failure in opposition.
The irony is that if Labor scales back the extent of renewable energy targets and emissions then how much of a crisis could it have been at the time of the election? It either is or it isn’t and to try to suggest to Australians that the cost of doing nothing was so high, they didn’t buy it. Who could forget when former PM Kevin Rudd said climate change “was the greatest moral challenge of our generation” in 2007? It wasn’t long after that his ETS was scrapped. Flimflam.
Steggall might say, “I think what was rejected was Labor’s economic policy“. That is true but it was also Labor’s climate change policies which were inextricably linked to people’s pocket books. She might reflect on how many seats that are now blue that weren’t decades ago. They are the aspirational voters, just like that poor chap that lost his job for asking Shorten about tax relief for those on $250,000. Those who don’t want the government in their pocket. Steggall’s electorate is highly affluent. They can weather storms far better than the average Joe.
Maybe Zali Steggall should catch up with Lisa Wilkinson at the Avenue Rd Cafe in Mosman and ask for NZ PM Jacinda Ardern’s direct line because they will both be wondering why PM Scott Morrison isn’t returning either of their calls!