The Guardian: Former ABC journalist, Zoe Daniel to run as an Independent against Liberal MP Tim Wilson, 25th Nov 2021

This article appeared in The Guardian on 25th November 2021. Journalist is Nino Bucci

You can read the transcript here.

Former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel to run as an independent against Liberal MP Tim Wilson in Victoria

Daniel, previously the ABC’s US correspondent, says it is time to end the ‘weaponisation’ of climate policy.

The former ABC reporter Zoe Daniel has announced she will run as an independent in the upcoming federal election in the Melbourne electorate of Goldstein, which is currently held by Liberal MP Tim Wilson.

Daniel announced in a series of tweets on Thursday that she would be contesting the seat in the city’s south-east, citing integrity in politics and climate change among her core concerns.

Her candidacy has been backed by Voices of Goldstein, one of a number of campaigns funding independent candidates in Coalition-held seats under the “Voice Of” movement.

Daniel told Guardian Australia it was time to end the “weaponisation” of climate policy. She backs an “enforceable” 50% emissions cut by 2030 to encourage economic investment.

“[Climate change has been] weaponised as a moral issue. But it’s also a pressing economic issue.

“We need to embrace the opportunities that come with climate change rather than being overtaken by other countries that step into that space.”

Daniel, who lives in Hampton, one of the bayside suburbs within the electorate, says she is a swinging voter who has never been a member of a political party.

She said she voted for Wilson in 2016 largely because she supported the then-prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and what she considered to be progressive climate and economic policies.

But she says that since Turnbull was “white-anted” out of office, moderate Liberals such as Wilson have been more interested in supporting the conservative approach of the National party than representing their electorates.

She insists running against Wilson – who tweeted several times about his record as an MP on Thursday without directly linking the statements to Daniel’s announcement – isn’t personal, but it was time he was held accountable.

“It’s to do with what they do, not what they say.”

Wilson, who was elected in 2016 and was reelected in 2019, holds the seat on a margin of just under 8%.

Daniel asked Goldstein residents in a campaign video launched on Thursday whether they valued honesty and integrity in politics, a strategic climate policy, transparent economic management, and safety and equality for women.

She plans to flesh out those ideas in a series of “community events”, “listening posts”, “democracy walks” and “kitchen table groups” within the electorate.

“It’s not just about telling people things, it’s about listening, consulting and then synthesising that into… a position.”

In terms of integrity, Daniel says she supported the bill for an integrity commission designed by independent MP Helen Haines, but also wanted to stop other examples of government spending that voters didn’t necessarily think equated to corruption: “overt and entrenched pork barrelling” that was “not for the good of communities but [for re-election”.

Under the Coalition’s commuter car park scheme, which was savaged by the Australian National Audit Office, Goldstein had six projects funded – more than any other Victorian electorate.

Daniel dismissed concerns raised by the Coalition – that reportedly prompted a warning from the Australian Electoral Commission – that “voices of” movements were not transparent about their sources of funding.

She said the majority of her financial backers were small donors who had made contributions as small as $5, but that she did have a “couple” of larger donors whose contributions would be declared if required under AEC rules.

Daniel also dismissed the suggestion that these independent candidates were beholden to the people who fund them, and could in fact be trojan horses for other political parties.

“It’s an easy piece of misinformation to deploy that the movement is somehow having its strings pulled by others behind the scenes but as far as I know that’s not happening,” she said.

Daniel will officially launch her campaign on Saturday morning in Sandringham, saying she had expected the news of her candidacy would hold until that day.

Daniel, who was a foreign correspondent during a career of three decades with the broadcaster, will draw inspiration from independents Cathy McGowan and Zali Steggall.

Her campaign video leans heavily on her career at the public broadcaster, and features her walking on the beach with her dog and two teenage children.

But Daniel said that she still expected some people in the electorate, which she described as statistically wealthier and better educated than average, would not be familiar with her.

“Maybe some people know who I am, but not in this context.”


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