Communities around Australia are taking clean energy into their own hands, the Indi win built on that

(The Guardian, 31 May 2019) Back to back independents have never been elected in Australia, until now.

The rural electorate of Indi will make history next week when Independent Dr Helen Haines is officially elected to replace fellow independent Cathy McGowan. Part of the reason she won was a climate platform founded on energy democracy.

Indi is a regional electorate in Victoria. It stretches all the way from the peri urban fringes of Melbourne to the Murray River. It is an electorate of mountains, valleys and plains. Until Cathy McGowan won in 2013, Indi had been a safe Liberal seat, delivering some of the largest margins in the country for conservative members.

Back to back independents have never been elected in Australian history. Popular independent MPs, like Tony Windsor or Rob Oakeshott have both seen their seats revert back to the Coalition.

There is a good reason for that. Once elected, independent members are popular, but most are elected on a protest vote from the former sitting member. It is very hard to run as an independent and win against a popular or at least “not-unpopular” major party candidate.

Indi is home to Australia’s most vibrant community energy network and this built the foundation for Helen Haines’ victory. The network includes 13 groups across the electorate, from the major population centres of Wodonga and Wangaratta in the north all the way to the smaller towns of Euroa and Alexandra in the south.

This has changed the politics of this regional seat and allowed a candidate like Helen to put forward a winning bold vision for tackling climate change.

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The Guardian, 31 May 2019: Communities around Australia are taking clean energy into their own hands, the Indi win built on that