Independents pledge to block Adani mine in event of minority government

Seven high-profile independents including Kerryn Phelps and Julia Banks promise to pursue climate actions

Seven potential lower-house independents have signed a joint statement pledging to pursue a number of climate change actions in the event the election makes them kingmakers in the next parliament – including working to stop the controversial Adani coalmine.

Andrew Wilkie in Denison, Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth, Julia Banks in Flinders, Helen Haines in Indi, Zali Steggall in Warringah, Rob Oakeshott in Cowper, and Oliver Yates in Kooyong, have signed a pledge coordinated by the Australian Conservation Foundation setting out 10 measures they will pursue in the next parliament in the event they win their seats, putting the major parties on notice in the event either has to form a minority government.

The statement contains explicit commitments to oppose the development of the proposed Adani coalmine; to “reinvigorate and restore funding to the national Climate Change Authority to be the independent, credible science-based advisory body it was originally intended to be”; work to exceed the current Paris target and ensure Kyoto credits are not used to meet the emissions reduction commitment; and to “develop a roadmap to power Australia from 100% renewable energy, aiming to achieve at least 50% by 2030”.

It also includes a commitment to oppose any attempts to commit public money to new or existing coal or other fossil fuel operations, including any government underwriting of coal or gas power plants – which is the Morison government’s current policy.

Phelps, who is running in the Sydney seat of Wentworth, told Guardian Australia that, regardless of who won the next election, the next parliament had to act on climate change because “the patience of the Australian people is exhausted”.

“This is a very commonsense statement, and people want real action on climate change,” she said.

The commitments from the independents come as the Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, will deliver his election address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, and castigate the major parties for inaction on climate change.

Di Natale will argue the Liberals have been a “disaster” for the climate but he will also castigate Labor for failing the test of ambition.

“For all of Labor’s talk, they are proving to be a real disappointment,” he will say. “As if supporting new coalmines like Adani in the Galilee Basin isn’t bad enough, Labor has just committed $1.5bn in public finance to frack the gas of the Beetaloo basin in the Northern Territory.

“The Beetaloo and McArthur basins are Australia’s biggest gas reserves, and fracking them will mean another 6.6% increase in pollution a year and 1,200 gas wells sunk against the wishes of traditional owners and farmers alike”.

Di Natale will repeat a call he made in an interview with Guardian Australia for Labor to revive the joint policy making approach of the 43rd parliament in the event Bill Shorten wins the election on 18 May.

“I say to Labor, don’t follow the take-it-or-leave-it approach of Kevin Rudd in 2009 but let us work together, just like we did with Julia Gillard in 2011, to deliver a climate policy that gives future generations a chance”.

Scott Morrison will spend another day on the hustings in Perth, promising $34m to establish a new aged care workforce research centre to examine new ways to deliver care for older Australians and training and education for aged care providers.

Morrison will also promise $10m to develop a seniors connected program “to address the silent battle of loneliness that thousands of older Australians live with every day”.

In a statement ahead of Wednesday’s announcement, Morrison said: “For some older Australians, retirement brings new challenges and stresses and sometimes that can lead to social isolation and loneliness, with a third of all seniors living alone”.

“Funding will boost support for organisations like the Friends for Good phone service, which offers support services outside normal business hours and on weekends, while also expanding village hub projects across the country”.

Shorten will begin Wednesday in Adelaide and will promise to fund a free legal advice service for small business and farmers who are victims of bank misconduct.

In a statement, the Labor leader said: “Small businesses and farmers have been crying out for legal help for years. They have faced scandal after scandal at the hands of banks and financial service providers.

“The service will offer free telephone legal advice to small businesses and farmers across Australia who are in a dispute with a financial service provider. In addition, the service will have funding and capacity to run ongoing cases in court and through the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.”


Katharine Murphy and Sarah Martin

The GuardianTramp

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