What happens in WA affects us all: Why next month’s state election matters

Australian Greens

Western Australia’s state election is on March 13th, with many people expected to vote early from February 22nd. Greens MLC and Spokesperson for Climate Change Tim Clifford explains why this election is so important, and why the outcome will impact all Australians – including you.

By Tim Clifford

If you’re not with me here in Western Australia, it probably feels like we’re really far away from the rest of the country – especially after the last year.

But as Australia’s biggest state – and one of the most polluting – what happens here will ripple across the country, and the world.

Western Australia’s current Premier is Mark McGowan. You might know him as the man who said “There’s nothing unlawful about going for a run and having a kebab” in early 2020. But behind this every-man persona is a dangerous track record of fossil fuel approvals and expansions, with no plan to stop anytime soon.

We have the fastest-growing emissions in the country and the Labor Government doesn’t have a plan to address that. Instead, we are told to be content with ‘ambitions’ without a pathway to get there and with plenty more fossil fuel projects in the pipeline.

In fact, in December 2020 I put forward a Climate Change Act in WA’s Parliament. An act that would have put real targets in place for 100% renewable energy and net-zero emissions, and laid out the steps to get there.

Thousands of people here in WA signed in support of this act, and hundreds even came down to Parliament to show their support on the day.

WA Labor’s response?

Instead of engaging in constructive debate and bringing the bill to a vote the government instead chose to filibuster, blocking the act from being voted on and effectively stopping any opportunity for an outcome.

More recently, while Perth was in a snap five-day lockdown, WA Labor used the distraction to quietly approve two gas projects, adding an extra 50,000,000 tonnes of pollution to WA’s already too-full plate.

Time and again, WA Labor are trying to push through climate-wrecking decisions. It’s not difficult to guess why.

In 2017-18 alone, WA Labor took $662,960 from big mining companies. And the Premier and three high-level ministers had an estimated 140 meetings with gas companies and lobby groups since coming into power in 2017.

We know that real action on climate change in WA is not going to come from Labor.

Instead, it’s going to come from us. From passionate people committed to solving the climate crisis. From my fellow Greens MPs… and from you.

But only if we have the courage, and the ability, to demand it.

Right now, some polling suggests that WA Labor could hold power in both houses of Parliament. If that happened, they’ll be able to pass whatever legislation they want, with no checks or balances.

This would give them the ability to expand gas drilling exploration, approve new gas and coal projects and increase logging of our old growth forests.

WA Labor are desperate to guarantee votes and try to hold power in both houses.

So much so that this week, they made a deal with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, whose policies include relaxation of firearms laws, cutting gun license fees and introducing hunting in our national parks.

We can’t let these backroom tactics pay off.

We need people in Parliament who want to be there to improve outcomes for their communities, not to grab and hold onto power.

We need strong Greens voices in Parliament to advocate for us and hold the balance of power in the upper house, without the influence of corporate donors or handshake deals with the far right.

For the last four years, we have been the real opposition, holding Labor to account and pushing them to go further and faster on climate. For all of us.

But that’s only possible by getting our message out, far and wide across our biggest state, to be seen by undecided voters.

As many as 40 percent of voters will make their mind up at the polling booth. And with an estimated 70 percent of people voting before election day, we can’t focus our efforts just on March 13th. We need to run a powerful, sustained campaign from when pre-polling begins, right up to the last minute.

March 13th will be too late for many undecided voters. That means more posters, more yard signs, more TV ads, more billboards and more how-to-vote cards.

It’s more important than ever that we ensure we get our message out for everyone to see: Vote [1] Greens. Because the consequences if we don’t? They’re disastrous.

Donate now to support wa’s election campaign

Tim Clifford is a Greens WA MLC for the East Metro Region and the party’s spokesperson for climate change.

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