Peter Dutton and high-profile Liberals staring down challenge from independents

Source: AAP

Peter Dutton could be at risk of a serious challenge from a community independent in his electorate of Dickson, with Climate 200 looking to fund more campaigns in seats held by high-profile Liberals.

Climate 200 is aiming to raise $1 million to fund 20 of the “most promising new community independent campaigns across the country” through its newly launched Community Accelerator Fund.

Dutton held onto Dickson by a margin of just 1.5 per cent at the 2022 federal election.

Byron Fay, Climate 200’s executive director, told The New Daily that if a viable and credible candidate aligned with Climate 200’s values and applied for funding in Dickson, they would help fund a challenge in Dutton’s seat.

“It’s too early for us to say where we will be supporting groups, but it’s definitely a broader group of seats this time around,” he said.

“The movement is growing. People are more enthusiastic about what they’ve seen has been achieved.”

The Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday that Climate 200 would target Dutton’s seat.

Fay said the political funding organisation does not launch campaigns to elect independents, but instead donates to those it believes aligns with its core values.

“We’re really excited about a number of seats where we supported candidates who did well, but did not win,” Fay said.

“In Bradfield, for example, Nicolette Boele came very close to winning with one of the biggest swings in the country.”

Climate 200 named Bradfield, Fairfax and Wannon, held by senior Liberal members Paul Fletcher, Ted O’Brien and Dan Tehan respectively, as seats that are viable for funding.

Moore, where Liberal MP Ian Goodenough was ousted during preselection, was also named.

Building a campaign

Fay said seats where an independent campaign had run in 2022 and performed well were also likely to receive funding.

“Looking back in the history books, it is normally two attempts for independents to break through in all of the seats, bar one where independents were successful at the last federal election,” he said.

“There are really four seats we think are really prospective.”

Climate 200 helped fund 23 campaigns in the 2022 federal election, of which 11 were successful in either entering Parliament or retaining their seat.

teal mps

Community-based ‘Teal’ independents swept into Parliament in 2022 after campaigning on climate action and integrity in politics. Photo: AAP

Alana Johnson, director of the Community Independents Project, said the communities that have done the groundwork before choosing a candidate have been the most successful.

“It is about the community choosing what they want and then going to pick the person that can stand for them,” she said.

“That changes the power structures enormously and it’s so different to what the political parties offer.”

The Community Independents Project aims to offer prospective Voices and community campaign groups the knowledge and experiences from those involved in successful campaigns to elect independents.

The groundwork

Johnson said she has been in contact with about 40 Voices groups across the country that are all motivated by the same thing.

“A person doesn’t win an election, the community wins an election,” Johnson said.

“Ordinary people want somebody who will put the community first and that is where the power lies.”

Fay said many of the electorates that may receive funding are still in the early stages of developing and finding a candidate.

“The electorates where independents were successful in the last election, the community groups that ultimately selected them and asked them to run started their work around a year out from the election on average,” he said.

“We’re right in that window now, so this community fund we’ve launched acknowledges that the work starts a long way out.”

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