Labor and the 'climate change election'

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Climate strikers Melbourne, May 3, 2019 (Image via Takver / flickr, edited) and Bill Shorten standing with solar panels (image via Australian Labor / Facebook, edited)

We were told time and time again throughout the recent Federal Election campaign that this was the "climate change election".

Underlining this claim was a report produced by the Lowy Institute showing that Australians view climate change as a greater threat even than terrorism.

So if this election was indeed a referendum on climate change, voters have delivered an unexpected yet crystal clear message to the major parties. Concerns about climate change are not yet severe enough to warrant the allocation of significant resources to the problem.

This lesson should already have been learned by the ALP, which clearly has not taken instruction from the experience of the Gillard years. Voters then turfed out a Labor Prime Minister on the strength of Tony Abbott’s offer to do away with the "Carbon Tax". The campaign fought by the ALP and the dismal results of this election show that the message was not understood.

The ALP allowed their election campaign to be heavily influenced by environmentalists. Whether this was due to a genuine moral project on the part of Bill Shorten and his leadership team or more simply a failed ploy to manufacture a cause celebre so as to generate a vote-attracting movement, will be the subject of future debate. In any case, in doing so, the ALP were seen to be neglecting their main constituency: the working men and women of Australia.

In this election, the Coalition took seats in traditional Labor areas, including some ground in former strongholds like Western Sydney. On the other end of the political spectrum, financially secure, inner-city professionals now relate in many cases more to left-wing parties such as Labor and the Greens. The historical dynamic of left-wing political parties representing the working man and right-wing parties the "big end of town" no longer seems to apply. This is a trend which is now evident not only in Australia but in countries such as the U.S.

The message for the Labor Party is two-fold. Listen to your main constituency and what they think and need. Translate those needs into policy. Don’t be distracted from core values. Most importantly, leave Climate Change to the Greens.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect Independent Australia's editorial position.

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