Lobby group ready to get up Rudd’s nose on climate
Ewin Hannan | May 07, 2009
THE organisation that helped deliver young voters to Kevin Rudd at the last election will campaign in marginal seats to pressure Labor to shift ground on climate change.
Lobby group GetUp warns that the Government faces an electoral backlash from ALP supporters at the next election, due before April 16, 2011.
GetUp will start door-knocking voters in marginal seats within weeks in the wake of the Rudd Government’s backdown on its emissions trading scheme.
The changes, announced after secret negotiations with business and green groups over the past few weeks, include a one-year delay on the scheme’s proposed start date of July 1 next year, taking it beyond the next federal election.
They also include a low $10-a-tonne fixed carbon price for its first year of operation, bringing it much closer to the scheme design advocated by the Coalition since before the previous federal poll.
Simon Sheikh, the organisation’s national director, said GetUp members were disappointed the Government “seems to be listening to industry more than people”. “What we hear a lot is that the Prime Minister was given a mandate at the last election to act on climate change and now our members are asking, ‘Well, how can we possibly be in a space where no serious climate action will be taken in this term?”‘ he said.
Mr Sheikh said GetUp had surveyed its members, including ALP voters in marginal seats, and they were prepared to move away from Labor. “Our members had a great degree of optimism in November 2007,” he said.
“When we have asked the question, ‘Are you prepared to change your vote on the back of any issue, and what is that issue?’, it’s climate change that comes out No 1.
“People are prepared in huge numbers — certainly the majority of our Labor-voting members are prepared — to switch their vote if they don’t see strong action.”
Mr Sheikh said GetUp had almost 18,000 members in the seat of Melbourne, which Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner won on preferences by less than 5 per cent from his Greens opponent, and 16,000 in Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek’s seat of Sydney, another with a big Greens vote.
“These are seats where significant shifts in voting patterns can make an impact,” he said. “We have thousands of members in other marginals across the country and I think it’s very clear that if those members mobilise in any united way, then the Prime Minister will have electoral problems.
“In the lead-up to Copenhagen (the UN’s climate change meeting in December), who is he going to listen to? Big polluters or people who voted for him?”
While the campaign was aimed at pressuring the Government, Mr Sheikh ruled out GetUp formally campaigning against Labor at the next election.