Might a local weather of change eject the Liberals from the Perth blue-ribbon seat of Curtin? | Australian election 2022

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Curtin is the kind of protected seat that doesn’t usually see or hear lots from politicians.

“I’ve been right here for 17 years, I’ve by no means met one,” says an area males’s hairstylist, Peter Alan. “I discover it a bit bizarre that, as a enterprise proprietor, I’ve by no means seen a politician.”

Celia Hammond at a cafe
Curtin’s Liberal incumbent, Celia Hammond. {Photograph}: David Dare Parker/The Guardian

Liberal or conservative since its creation in 1949, the blue-ribbon seat in Perth’s prosperous western suburbs takes within the inner-suburban and beachside areas between the Swan River and the Indian Ocean. The previous international affairs minister Julie Bishop was the native member right here for 11 years.

Tom, a retired geologist stopping to speak at Sculpture by the Sea, cites the truth that Cottesloe, inside the boundaries of Curtin, was one among simply two state seats to return a Liberal in Mark McGowan’s landslide 2021 election.

“We solely see [politicians] at election time, and solely within the letterbox,” Tom says.

However issues are a bit totally different this time. “The Liberal party has despatched us three numerous stuff, normally we don’t hear from them in any respect till the week earlier than the election,” says Tom’s spouse, Marie. “We’ve had extra [contact] this yr than ever earlier than.”

Peter Alan in Subiaco
Hairstylist Peter Alan in Subiaco. {Photograph}: David Dare Parker/The Guardian

There’s a good cause for that.

The Liberal MP who succeeded Bishop, Celia Hammond, holds Curtin with a margin of 13.9%. However she faces a problem from the unbiased Kate Chaney, one among a crop of mostly inner-city independents backed by Local weather 200 who’re working on a platform of larger motion on local weather change and integrity in politics.

Chaney brings a cohort of a dozen volunteers together with her to Cottesloe seashore, projecting the picture of a people-powered marketing campaign as Sculpture by the Sea officers hover nervously, warning in opposition to turning the occasion right into a political sideshow.

The candidate tells Guardian Australia she’s working on the “enormous financial alternatives arising out of decarbonisation” as Western Australia may change into “a renewable vitality power”.


In line with Chaney, Curtin voters are much less targeted on “hyper-local” points and extra on “systemic change on macro points”, reminiscent of local weather and integrity.

In brief, they’re post-material – and might properly afford to be, in an voters dominated by professionals and managers, who collectively make up greater than half of employed folks. In Curtin, the median family earnings is $2,052 every week, properly above the Australian common of $1,438.

Voters say Curtin felt well-served by Bishop.

On the Floreat Discussion board buying centre close to Hammond’s voters workplace, Jennifer Stacey says it “appeared to imply lots, when Julie Bishop was there”.

Independent Kate Chaney talks to a beachgoer, backed by her volunteers
Unbiased Kate Chaney talks to a beachgoer, backed by her marketing campaign volunteers. {Photograph}: David Dare Parker/The Guardian

“Individuals would say, ‘Oh, we’ve received somebody sitting in cupboard’ – now I’m not likely positive what that particular person [Hammond] is doing, what kind of affect they’ve.”

Stacey is a progressive voter who says she votes “out of protest in opposition to the Liberals” as a result of they appear to take the seat with no consideration – however she hasn’t heard of Chaney, whose marketing campaign didn’t kick off till late January.

“I feel we would wish to pay attention to them now, it’s a bit regarding – it’s a bit late within the race to not be,” Stacey says.

Jennifer Stacey at Floreat Forum shopping centre
Jennifer Stacey at Floreat Discussion board buying centre. {Photograph}: David Dare Parker/The Guardian

However others have heard concerning the different. At a restaurant in Subiaco, Andrew, a resident of the suburb for 40 years, is poring over an article within the West Australian concerning the native contest. He says the Liberals appear “a bit involved about this new woman” as Chaney seems to be “nipping away” at their massive margin.

“She’s received so lots of the billboards across the voters already – she’s received an energetic group to help her.”

Andrew says he’s from a farming neighborhood initially, noting that farmers are “critically conscious” of local weather change.

He says Curtin may go the identical manner as Warringah, the place Zali Steggall “took out a Liberal” – the previous prime minister Tony Abbott.

“The Liberal authorities is seen to be dragging their ft a bit on [climate change]. Significantly earlier than they went to Glasgow – they needed to be dragged kicking and screaming to internet zero by 2050.”

“I don’t assume Hammond has executed a terrific deal,” Andrew says. “She got here from a Catholic college, which have been fairly anti-women’s rights – that doesn’t gel with me. She hasn’t had a excessive profile.”


Marie, a highschool trainer, says she is “disenchanted by a few of [Hammond’s] voting patterns”.

“I’m not pleased with their insurance policies on refugees, and a number of the spiritual laws I didn’t approve of in any respect,” she says.

Hammond pushes again in opposition to the characterisation of being a conservative in a reasonable Liberal space, saying “assumptions are made” and a popularity can “tackle a lifetime of its personal and turns into an accepted fact, even when it’s not”.

The 53-year-old says her reported views – which embody downplaying humanity’s contribution to the climate crisis and concerns about premarital sex and militant feminism – have modified.

“That’s what development and studying and compassion and being with folks is all about,” she says.

“However I’m nonetheless essentially the identical particular person, and I don’t really label myself something. So when it was put to me that I used to be conservative versus reasonable, my response is I’m a Liberal.”

Hammond says it’s “well-known that I used to be a part of a gaggle of Liberal MPs who advocated strongly for the dedication to a internet zero by 2050 and with an in depth plan”.

She says earlier than she was a politician, unfavourable campaigning didn’t communicate to her, so she needs a constructive marketing campaign about what she will ship – however she is going to “name out and contest” concepts with the opposite candidates.

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Each campaigns are drawing a pointy distinction the place they should. The Liberals have focused Chaney for her one-time membership of the Labor party, which Chaney explains she joined “briefly” earlier than leaving, dismayed by “tribalism”.

Chaney criticises Hammond for having “spoken not too long ago” concerning the want for extra motion on local weather change and a stronger integrity fee: “The fact is we’ve seen nothing on these points from the final three years.”

The unbiased refuses to say who she would assist within the occasion of a hung parliament, solely that supporting the Coalition is a “attainable end result” if it improves its local weather insurance policies, and she is going to determine primarily based on who has a “credible” providing.

Voters appear to credit score her household’s Liberal pedigree. “I’m positive she’s received sturdy Liberal values – I don’t assume that may fear folks,” Andrew says.

Others are attracted as a result of she represents change.

Edward Brannan at Cottesloe beach
Edward Brannan at Cottesloe seashore. {Photograph}: David Dare Parker/The Guardian

Edward Brannan, who lives at Metropolis Seashore, a bit additional up the coast from Cottesloe, says he feels despair on the two-party system: “It’s simply not getting issues executed – it’s not addressing the problems, and I can’t see that altering.”

Brannan, who subscribes to Local weather 200’s communications, says he’s voting on local weather, accountability in authorities and ladies’s rights.

“It’s appalling to have a federal authorities which isn’t accountable for its actions, and there’s no one like Icac overseeing it.

“That’s been averted for the entire parliamentary session. What they put ahead was garbage.”

Though some annoyed progressive voters are glad to have another, many listed below are rusted-on Liberals.

Kate Bailey, who stops to talk on the street close to the upmarket vogue outlets of the Claremont Quarter, describes herself as a “fairly stable voter” – not a swinging one. She thinks Scott Morrison is “implausible”.

“[Morrison takes] fairly a level-headed method to the problems, significantly Covid. He doesn’t appear to be one of many name-calling politicians that you simply see, significantly occurring on the opposite facet of the fence.”

“I feel he’s executed a fairly good job managing the nation during the last two or three years.”

Jane and Laura in the Claremont Quarter
Jane and Laura from Claremont. {Photograph}: David Dare Parker/The Guardian
Kate Bailey out shopping
Kate Bailey out buying. {Photograph}: David Dare Parker/The Guardian

Many are nonetheless undecided. Jane and Laura, from Claremont, are weighing the selection.

Jane leans Liberal, describing Hammond as an excellent politician, who “works very laborious” and is “underestimated”.

“I really feel sorry for Scott Morrison in a method, as a result of it’s been a horrible time,” she says, though she concedes the prime minister has been “MIA [missing in action] extra usually than he ought to”.

However Laura – regardless of agreeing that Hammond did an excellent job connecting small companies to federal assist – is contemplating the choice.

“I’d prefer to see extra on the worldwide warming and local weather facet of issues,” she says. “I feel there may be a number of silence there – I don’t really feel comfy with that in the mean time.

Laura feels Morrison has “missed the ball on so many main crises during the last three years” and is disenchanted in his management – though she is “not likely a fan of Anthony Albanese both”.

Regardless of differing views about Morrison’s efficiency, many citizens in Curtin are searching for the identical issues when it comes to coverage – the query is how you can get it.

For Liberal-leaning voters the selection is one among revolution or evolution: whether or not a voice outdoors the tent might help alter the course on local weather; or whether or not an MP in authorities who says her views have modified trumps the uncertainty of a newcomer.

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