The Big Teal | Simon Holmes a Court | Avid Reader
Saturday, 19 November 2022
Avid Reader Bookshop West End
The ‘We will not achieve net zero in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities.’ Little infuriated the forgotten people of the twenty-first century—women and younger voters, especially—more than Scott Morrison’s deluge of disparagement on the issues that mattered to them. The May 2022 election marked the great re-engagement of those ignored and patronised for too long on climate, integrity and gender equity.
The electoral map has been dramatically redrawn. However, the triumph of the ‘teals’ was not entirely unexpected to those assisting their rise, such as Climate 200 founder Simon Holmes à Court. As Australia entered its lost decade on climate action, he observed that conventional advocacy had become a case of diminishing returns, and that Cathy McGowan’s election as a community independent in 2013 provided a template for direct political engagement. The result was Climate 200, a crowdfunded outfit intended to provide the money and expertise to better match the major parties and turbocharge the grassroots movement emerging in thirty-plus electorates.
Despite a relentless and increasingly shrill campaign of vilification aimed at Holmes à Court and the candidates by the Liberals, assisted by their media mates, we saw the election of six new community independent MPs and one senator. It was a victory of facts over fear, priorities over prejudice. It was a blow to the unfit-for-purpose ‘majoritariat’, a rejection of the false binary choice between parties that no longer reflect the hopes and complexity of modern democratic Australia.
This is the story of how a team of inspired young tech-heads and older sages used their real and virtual-world experience to help a cluster of communities get the representation they wanted.
Simon Holmes à Court has stood at the intersection of community, climate action and politics since May 2007, when he attended the meeting of a community group setting out to build Australia’s first community-owned wind farm. Fifteen years later to the month, at the May 2022 federal election, one of this former Silicon Valley dotcom engineer’s startups, Climate 200, harnessed community, climate action and politics to play a major role in shaking up Australia’s tired old political order.
Simon is an energy analyst, clean-tech investor, climate philanthropist, and director of the Smart Energy Council and the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network. He was co-founder of the Australian Wind Alliance and inaugural chair of the Melbourne Energy Institute’s Advisory Board.