By KATHRYN LEWIS
A climate forum apart of the lead up to the by-election in federal seat of Batman has been labeled “undemocratic” for excluding five of the 10 candidates.
Convenor Jane Morton of Darebin Climate Action NOW (DCAN), organisers of the event on Tuesday night, said they made the decision to only invite candidates who had climate policies to make sure the forum kept to the theme.
“We have invited everyone in the past, but they just use the opportunity to grandstand and side-track things, our focus was on who has the best policy to act on the climate emergency,” Ms Morton said.
Independent candidate Teresa van Lieshout, who staged a protest outside the forum, said the event was unfair to half the electoral candidates.
“It’s not democratic if you exclude five out of 10 candidates from any public political forum, regardless of what issues are being discussed.”
Ms van Lieshout said she had “quite strong environmental views” that DCAN were not aware of.
“I wanted to give a theological perspective on climate change,” she said.
“There’s two general perspectives on climate change, there’s the atheist perspective and then there is the biblical perspective.”
Ms van Lieshout said she would support several environmental initiatives such as solar energy and mass recycling programs. One of her party’s priorities was creating specified land and marine conservations areas for tourism jobs, she said.
However, her party’s website, The Voter Rights Party, does not state any support for renewable energy, increased recycling programs or other climate policies.
DCAN Convenor Ms Morton said they did not find any strong climate policies in Ms van Lieshout’s campaign.
“She makes no mention of climate change in her campaigning … and being an environmentalist in a vague kind of way at this point is really not enough,” she said.
Ms Morton said the forum needed to be focused on the immediacy of the climate issue.
“We want to save trees, and animals, but if we let the climate continue to spiral out of control, the damage to those things is going to be so great that looking after them in an ordinary way is just not going to make a difference.”
The other four uninvited candidates were Debbie Robinson of the Australian Liberty Alliance, Tegan Burns from the Australian People’s Party, Rise Up Australia candidate Yvonne Gentle, and Australian Conservatives candidate Kevin Bailey.