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Members with influence

G-Online

Meet the politicians who will have a big say in our final government, including their position on 'green' policies.

four amigos

Clockwise from top left: Rob Oakshott, Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Adam Bandt.

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Rob Oakshott

Seat held: Independent member for Lyne (mid-north coast of NSW)
Political history: Oakshott entered politics as the youngest member of NSW Parliament at just 25 years old. In the 12 and a half years he spent in State politics, Rob was the NSW Shadow Minister for Sport, Racing, Gaming, Ports, and Fisheries. Together with Greens MP Sarah Hanson-Young and Labor MP Graham Perrett, he helped establish the Parliamentarians Amnesty International Group, which he now co-convenes. Oakshott is a strong advocate of local engagement in education. He’s a keen bike rider, and apparently makes a mean vegetable pie!
Stance on ‘green’ policies: Climate change is a very real issue for Oakshott, who says he understands the importance of addressing environmental issues now. He names climate change as a top priority and favours the implementation of some kind of market-based scheme for greenhouse gases. Oakshot believes Labor got the emissions trading scheme wrong, and that the Garnaut Review was on the right track back in 2008. He says we need to revisit Garnaut’s findings to create a better scheme.

Tony Windsor

Seat held: Member for New England (Armidale region of NSW)
Political history: Coming from a farming family, and as a farmer himself, Windsor has been involved in rural issues his whole life. He attended an agricultural high school in Tamworth and went on to study economics at the University of England in Armidale. He was formerly the Federal Member for Tamworth, leaving to contest the seat of New England which had safely been held by the Country/National party since 1919, and which he won through preferences in 2001. He has been somewhat vocal on issues of land use in relation to the environment, but it is not one of his key concerns. He recently sold some of his farm off to a mining company.
Stance on ‘green’ policies: Well, we know that Windsor believes in climate change, which he says is a very real issue for his mainly rural voters. He’s been heavily involved in the climate change debate and wants action now, which is a positive sign – but he’s firmly opposed to Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, on the basis that it was too apologetic towards the big emitters to make a real difference.

Bob Katter

Seat held: Member for Kennedy (North-west Queensland)
Political history: Katter is the most conservative of ‘the four amigos’. His father was the Federal Member for Kennedy for 24 years, and now he’s held the seat for 17 years and counting. Leaving the National party to “better represent the issues of his electorate”, Katter now harbours a strong disliking to his former party, making it pretty clear that he would never sit in a coalition with the Nationals. He has strong views on industrial relations laws, economic rationalism and the state’s removal of people’s rights. Katter says that “the people of Kennedy have always been independent minded and acutely aware that policies which suit heavily populated centres do not necessarily work for those living in Northern and Western Queensland”.
Stance on ‘green’ policies: Katter is backed to sit with the coalition on climate change policies, but it’s unclear if he will provide his full support to the coalition following the hung parliament of the 2010 election – due to their ties with the National party. Before the election, Katter said he would work with the Greens in the event of the anticipated hung Parliament. He hopes for more investment in ethanol and solar power in his electorate. He’s completely against the mining tax, the carbon tax and an emissions trading scheme; and in fact, it’s unclear whether he believes in climate change at all.

Adam Bandt

Seat held: The Division of Melbourne (includes City of Melbourne and some outer suburbs)
Political history: Completing a PhD in law and politics from Monash University, Bandt was also the president of the student union. He went on to work at Slater and Gordon, where he once held the same role that Julia Gillard held (…a sign of things to come?). An industrial and public interest lawyer, he has been vocal on such issues as gay rights, anti-terrorism laws and outworkers in the clothing industry. Bandt ran for election in this seat in 2007, but narrowly lost to Lindsay Tanner. With Tanner’s retirement, in this year’s election Bandt has now become the first member of the Australian Green party to be elected to the House of Representatives in a general election. Bandt describes himself as a book nerd who likes live music gigs.
Stance on ‘green’ policies: Being a member of the Greens party, Bandt follows the party line on this one – but he hasn’t been vocal himself on climate change. He has clearly indicated that he will side with Labor in the hung Parliament fiasco.

There are two other key players who look likely to add insult to injury of the Australian Parliament: Andrew Wilkie, an independent who looks set to win Denison in Hobart, and the National party member Tony Crook in the seat of O’Connor in Western Australia. Wilkie is a former intelligence analyst turned whistle-blower, who was once a young Liberal and once ran for the Greens against then-PM John Howard in Bennelong (and lost). Beating the popular Wilson Tuckey, Crook has been very active in sending government mining profits back to the regional areas where they came from rather than into the state’s metropolitan centres through the Royalties for Regions campaign.