Labor’s resounding federal election victory and the uprising by Teal independents represents an unequivocal message from the people of Australia that climate change action is priority number one, writes EcoGeneration editor Gavin Dennett.
After a gruelling and unforgivingly ferocious campaign, the federal election has been run and won. Australians took to the polls on Saturday, 21 May, delivering a resounding victory to the Australian Labor Party and its leader, Anthony Albanese.
With Albanese now sworn in as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia, his election victory represents hope for a nation that can now look forward to a future of fairness for all. No longer hamstrung by a blinkered Coalition government that seemingly put people and the planet last, Australia begins a new chapter of progress and prosperity.
However, the victory didn’t come easy. With a vitriolic, agenda-driven media landscape hellbent on undermining Labor’s campaign at every opportunity – the aggressive hounding of Albanese was at times a national disgrace – it was often a battle for voices of reason to be heard.
But among the white noise, Australians were not fooled. The overriding message from the nation’s voters was that we desperately need change, especially in relation to gender equality, formulating a national anti-corruption commission, and action on climate change.
It is expected a Labor government will deliver marked improvement in these areas, especially with a robust crossbench featuring Teal independents and Greens MPs.
The rise of the Teals, back by the wealthy Climate 200 fund, cut a swathe through blue ribbon Liberal electorates, proving that people in these aspirational regions are desperate for climate change measures.
The Coalition government was in denial of the urgent need for climate action. Being led by Scott Morrison – a man who proudly paraded a lump of coal through parliament in 2017 just to remind the nation how out of touch he is in his support of the fossil fuel industry – and delivering a Federal Budget in March 2022 that was hopelessly inadequate in its support of renewables, it was failing the people of Australia and the nation’s future generations.
However, the people have spoken and as we emerge from a pessimistic fog, the vision presented by Labor, the Greens and Teal independents give hope that Australia can power forward in its ambition of net-zero emissions by 2050.
For the 30,000 people who work in Australia’s clean energy industry, they have clarity knowing the climate wars are over, and reassurance the Federal Government is committed to making Australia a clean energy superpower.
Albanese’s stirring victory speech on election night was inspiring in its clarity for drastic social, economic and environmental change, and unequivocally direct in its message of Australia leading the world in the renewables space.
“Together we can end the climate wars,” he said. “Together we can take advantage of the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower.”
With Chris Bowen expected to be sworn in as Minister for Energy and Climate Change, he inherits a portfolio full of challenges, but with limitless opportunity.
“It’s a big moment for the clean energy industry,” says Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton. “We have achieved extraordinary things during the past decade, despite the ongoing climate wars and federal policy that was somewhere between underwhelming and non-existent.
“Imagine what we can now achieve with a Federal Government that has a clear vision for clean energy, strong targets and sensible policy. The Clean Energy Council knows Chris well and think he will make a very good minister.
“The new government has a climate target of 43 per cent by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. Despite the clear mandate voters gave them on climate change, the scars and mistakes of the past are etched in the memory of many senior members of the new government.
“With the makeup of both houses still uncertain, the government will likely look to operate in ways that don’t require legislation and expose them to mistakes of the past.
“This all presents a new challenge for our industry, but an incredibly exciting one as we shift modes to work constructively with a Federal Government that backs our industry and wants to ensure Australia becomes a clean energy superpower.”
With the pathway clearly illuminated, the hard work starts now.