2007 Federal Election (McEwan)

In the 2007 Federal Election, the Shire of Murrindindi was within the Federal Electorate of McEwan.

The Candidates

The  candidates participating in the Forum included:

- Fran Bailey (Sitting Member), Liberal Party

- Robert Mitchell, Australian Labor Party

- Steve Meacher, Australian Greens

- Scott Kane, Australian Democrats.

Questions & Answers

In order to get a clearer idea of each candidate’s stance on climate change, three questions were given to the candidates in advance of the forum to ensure they were able to get their party's message across. The three questions were; (1) Will your party sign the Kyoto Protocol?  Please explain your reasoning, (2) Please state clearly your party's aim on emissions targets and your immediate plan to achieve these,  and (3) What is the greatest opportunity for the McEwen electorate in a carbon economy?  

On the first question, there was an overwhelming agreement that climate change was a pressing issue and that immediate steps needed to be taken to tackle climate change. However, there were very different viewpoints on how this could be achieved. The Liberal candidate, Fran Bailey, was the only speaker to say that her party would not ratify the Kyoto protocol, as it did not cover developing countries such as China and India, but that other forums such as the Asia-Pacific Partnership would provide the opportunity to define an emission reduction path.

With respect to the second question, however, the Liberal party could not be drawn to say what its exact targets would be to reduce greenhouse emissions. In contrast, the other candidates all confirmed that their parties would ratify Kyoto in order to adhere at once to binding greenhouse emission targets for developed nations and to move forwards together with the developing nations in a Post-Kyoto agreement. Whereas the Labor party aims at a 60% reduction of 2000  levels by 2050, the Greens said they would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% of 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. With respect to alternatives to a fossil fuel based energy production, the Democrats said that they would aim at a mandatory renewable energy target of 25%  by 2020 and 50% by 2050. Similarly, for the Greens, renewable energy should also be promoted by means of a mandatory renewable energy target starting with 15% by 2012 and 25% by 2020, with a feed-in tariff system and regulations providing a strong incentive to switch to renewables.

On the last question, all candidates agreed that the McEwen Electorate could play a major role in a carbon economy through green initiatives and via schemes such as tree-planting and renewable energy technologies such as solar.

The candidates were then given questions from the floor from an energetic and enthusiastic crowd, which produced some inspiring and evocative topics not previously covered by the candidates, for example whether nuclear energy was an option or the question of how the increasing world population was related to climate change.

In general, there was an overwhelming feeling that something needs to be done at all levels of government to tackle climate change, and that actions such as legally binding targets, rather than aspirational targets, should be put in place to guide Australia and the world into a carbon neutral future.