Can solar change the WA senate result?

Originally posted at Climate Spectator. View the original post here

The Australian Solar Council’s Save Solar marketing campaign to influence the outcome of the WA Senate election is in full swing now.

Using lessons learnt from the mining industry’s campaign against the resource rent tax, but with a dose of bottom-up, crowdfunded people-power, the council is rolling out the advertisement below via television and social media channels.

This is squarely focused at alerting the community to the risk that the Coalition federal government has been less than forthright about their intentions around the Renewable Energy Target, and all the signals suggest a cutback. The campaign urges WA voters to vote for those parties that promise to leave the RET intact as specified in the existing legislation.

John Grimes, chief executive of the Australian Solar Council, informed Climate Spectator that this has been coupled with a number of major Western Australian solar retailers emailing their lists of thousands of current and prospective customers. These emails piggy-back off the advertisements to alert customers to the risk of cutbacks in the RET and urge them to vote for parties that won’t scale back support for renewable energy.

Full-page advertisements are being run across the major West Australian newspaper, as well as a range of local newspapers, containing the message below about where each party stands on support for solar.  However, as of today Grimes informed Climate Spectator that the Coalition will be marked as a ‘no’.

Graph for Can solar change the WA senate result?

John Grimes was at pains to tell Climate Spectator that they don’t wish to take political sides. He explained that they had made multiple attempts to engage the Coalition to get some clarity on what their supportive statements about a “20 per cent” Renewable Energy Target actually meant in concrete terms for the current legislation. Yet the Prime Minister’s office has so far refused to answer their requests.

Given the Government has indicated that the review of the target has pretty much put everything on the table including, even, outright abolition of the scheme – contrary to the spirit of their election statements – the Solar Council feel they’ve been left with little other choice but to take an active position in the WA senate election.

The Palmer United Party retains a ‘question mark’ rather than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This is because the party’s WA senate candidate, Dio Wang, made an unambiguous statement consistent with what the solar council was seeking, but this was confused by statements from the leader of the party – Clive Palmer.

Based on a range of qualitative and quantitative feedback, Grimes believes their campaign has been successful at reaching a very large proportion of the WA electorate. Critically, for Grimes, it has sparked concern among the key swinging voter demographic of mortgage belt households.

Grimes believes this could mean that rather than getting three senators in WA, the Coalition may only get two. Those that couldn’t bring themselves to vote Labor or Greens but want support for solar may be tempted to vote Palmer United in light of the ‘no’ mark against the Coalition. Meanwhile, Ludlam ends up getting returned and Labor get two senators instead of just one.

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