‘Keep The Bastards Honest’: Former Australian Democratic Leader Joins High-Profile Group Supporting Independents | Scott Morrison
As Scott Morrison winds a ragged week in Parliament, the organization that funds independents who challenge Liberal incumbents in their urban heartland has amassed over $ 4 million in campaigning and has strengthened its advisory body.
Former leader of the Australian Democrats, Meg Lees, has joined Climate 200’s advisory board, as has former leader of the Liberal Party, John Hewson, and Labor veteran Barry Jones.
Temperate liberals in big cities facing the challenges of independents supported by Climate 200 have increased their visibility during the major political debates of the past few months – climate change, religious discrimination, and the long-delayed Federal Integrity Commission.
Morrison faced open rebellion the penultimate week of Parliament’s session, from MPs opposed to compulsory vaccinations and from moderate liberal Bridget Archer, who crossed the floor on Thursday to support an attempt by independent Helen Haines to open a debate a state anti-corruption agency.
Liberal moderates like Andrew Bragg, Dave Sharma and Trent Zimmerman have been vocal during the internal debate over the government’s religious discrimination package.
Former ABC journalist and foreign correspondent Zoe Daniel announced on Thursday that she would run as an independent candidate in the upcoming federal election in the Melbourne seat of Goldstein, which is currently being held by Liberal MP Tim Wilson.
Lees said she joined the Climate 200 Advisory Board because “if there was ever a need to keep the bastards honest, now is the time”.
“I have no doubt that the founder of the Australian Democrats, Don Chipp, who made the phrase his catchphrase, would be appalled by the state of Australian politics today, and so would I,” said the former Democrat chief.
“I was Senator for South Australia from 1990 to 2005. I have worked consistently and, whenever possible, made changes to the law to support action against climate change.
“Since then I have largely stayed away from public political activity, but now I feel that we have reached a critical turning point and that neither the coalition nor the Labor party are making decisions and advocating policies that are in the best interests of Australia or the world lies outside of our interest. “Shore.”
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Guardian Australia announced last week that Hewson had partnered with Jones to support a social media-focused advocacy campaign targeting Scott Morrison’s record on integrity and climate action ahead of the general election.
The voluntary non-profit organization, the Truth and Integrity Project, has some overlap with Climate 200 and the community groups “voices”, which are modeled after the successful 2013 campaign by the independent Cathy McGowan.
Hewson and Jones have also joined the Climate 200 Advisory Board.
Climate 200 was launched by climate activist Simon Holmes à Court. The organization is a company, not a charity. It does not select political candidates, but it is a fundraising vehicle to fund campaigns by independents.
Holmes à Court is the convener, Damien Hodgkinson – who worked with Kerryn Phelps during her campaign for Wentworth’s Sydney headquarters – is the company’s director and Byron Fay is the group’s executive director.
With pre-election activity booming, Bragg, the Liberal Senator from New South Wales, has already written to the Australian Electoral Commission asking for an investigation into the “vote” movements that organize independent campaigns.
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MPs on both sides of politics think it is possible that the upcoming federal elections could be close enough to provide a hanging parliament. When this happens, Crossbenchers in the House of Representatives will be kingmakers who will determine the next Australian government and influence its political agenda.
Holmes à Court said last week’s events had shown the usefulness of Crossbench. “It is particularly fitting that former Australian Democratic Chairwoman Meg Lees accepted Climate 200’s invitation to join our advisory board.
“She is the second former party leader to sit on the board, alongside John Hewson and former Hawke government secretary Barry Jones and former Independent MPs Julia Banks and Kerryn Phelps,” he said.
“Everyone has decided that a non-community bank is the right way to restore integrity, accountability and decency to politics.”
But Zimmerman, one of the liberals facing a challenge, told ABC Thursday that the level of organization building behind the challengers suggests it is not a group of independents. “I wonder when will these independents stop calling themselves independents when it’s actually such a coordinated network?”
He also questioned the value of independents targeting progressive liberals.
“It’s pretty bizarre that they would do that because I have the strongest point of view, always before I was in parliament, the Liberal Party, the government is better served when you have progressive voices like my own or Tim Wilson in it.”
Zimmerman said he never took his own re-election for granted, “and there has always been fierce competition in North Sydney”.
“In my first election and in my second election, I had two election campaigns against very high-ranking independents,” said the moderate liberal.