Note: This is the first in a series of interviews with some of the ‘climate independents’, who could help decide the outcome of the federal election and the future of climate, energy and transport policies in Australia.
Australia could be about to hear a lot more from Kylea Tink, particularly if the independent candidate for the seat of North Sydney can unseat the Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman and deliver on her goal of breaking a decade long ‘gridlock’ on federal climate policy.
If she wins, she could join the likes of Warringah’s Zali Steggall and a number of others on a potentially powerful cross-bench, depending on how the numbers stack up after the federal election.
Tink answered some questions from RenewEconomy about her motivations to run for parliament, her support for stronger climate policies, and getting Australians driving cleaner cars.
RE: What did you do before politics? What experiences do you have that would make you a good parliamentarian?
Tink: I’m a business leader, a social advocate, and a mum of three. I’ve lived in the North Sydney electorate for more than 15 years, and am deeply connected and committed to this community.
My experiences leading the McGrath Foundation, Camp Quality and other numerous commercial and social organisations, have taught me that we achieve the best outcomes when we are prepared, and able, work together to pull in behind a common ambition. It is the lack of the capacity of the two major parties to do just this that has seen our country become gridlocked.
Growing the Independent crossbench in the House of Representatives is the fastest way to enable collaboration across political lines, and ultimately to move forward in pursuing solutions to the urgent and complex challenges we currently face.
People who know me will tell you that I’m the type of person who argues for what I believe in like I know I am right, but I listen like I know I am wrong. If elected as North Sydney’s representative, I am confident that we, as a community, can play an important role in moving our country forward by ensuring our true voice is heard in the House of Representatives and that our electoral vote is cast in a way that is consistent with our ambitions.
What motivated you to put your hand up for politics as an independent candidate?
Over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly concerned about the decisions and behaviours that we are seeing from our politicians in Canberra. I know Australia can do better on issues that matter to my community: climate action, inequity in our community, a lagging economy, the gender gap and basic human rights.
I am not a professional politician, but when I was approached by a community group that was looking for an Independent candidate to run in the next election, I saw an opportunity to make a genuine difference by ensuring North Sydney is heard so I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
What would you hope to achieve as an independent? Are you open to working with the major parties to form government? What issues are important to you in negotiations?
Arguably, for over a decade now, our country has been gridlocked as the two major parties slog it out to maintain power and control and fail to collaborate to introduce and pursue positive legislative reform.
As North Sydney’s Independent, I will work with others on the crossbench to drive meaningful and effective legislative reform on a number of areas including:
- Faster action on climate: I have committed to tabling a Private Members Bill in the first twelve months to legislate vehicle and fuel efficiency standards in Australia; I am also committed to supporting the Climate Bills presented by Zali Steggall MP during the last parliamentary term to ensure we have a national framework that moves beyond political ideology to move our climate approach forward faster.
- Integrity in politics: I will back the legislation already prepared by Helen Haines to support the establishment of a Federal Integrity Commission as a matter of urgency. I will also back legislative reform that sees the influence of money in politics countered, truth in political advertising pursued and transparency and accountability in grant giving processes.
- Address fundamental issues of inequality: Including advocating for the adoption of all 55 recommendations from the Kate Jenkins [email protected] report, pursuing the realisation of a unifying legislative reform that comes with embracing the Uluru Statement from the Heart and fighting for a review of immigration systems and processes.
- Bring debate out of the Party Rooms and back into the House of Representatives: where all Australians can see and hear who is saying what on what topics.
It’s important that we have a strong stable government here in Australia that people can rebuild trust and respect for. If asked to help form a government I will be open to talking to all parties and would conduct those negotiations on the basis of achieving the above legislative ambitions.
Once a government is formed, as an Independent I will guarantee supply but beyond that, every piece of proposed legislative change will be weighed on its own merits with North Sydney’s electoral vote being cast publicly and in line with our community’s ambitions and my own conscience.
What do you see as lacking in the climate and energy policies of the major parties? What policies would you like to be put in place?
The fact that climate continues to be politicised by both major parties is not just a failure of leadership, but also a massive missed economic opportunity for Australia to lead the global clean economy. Climate action and a strong, forward-focussed economy go hand in hand.
My policies include:
- An actionable and measurable plan which maps the decarbonisation of the Australian economy and prioritises reskilling, and greater support for tertiary education skills development; fosters a strong, diversified economy powered by well-educated and highly trained young Australians.
- The introduction of legislated fuel and vehicle emission targets in Australia.
- Greater federal investment in high growth, innovative green industries.
- Targeted skilled migration to drive productivity, innovation and economic growth.
- Introducing an independent climate change body to develop an evidence-based plan to reduce national emissions by at least 60% by 2030 and net zero by 2040.
- The progressive removal of subsidies for coal and gas.
- No new coal and gas extraction projects.
Do you see yourself as a ‘climate’ independent, why is climate change a priority issue for you?
I see myself as a representative of the people of North Sydney, and what we want is urgent climate action. I have had thousands of conversations since I was asked to run as a community independent and it has been and remains consistently clear: people are frustrated by the lack of climate action and leadership, and are excited about a clean energy future that only independents, free of vested interests, can deliver.
What about electric vehicles? What policies would you like to see implemented?
Australians want to be driving electric vehicles, but lack of political will is making it so we simply cannot get them. Surveys show the majority of Australians (54%) would consider purchasing an EV as their next car if Government subsidies were in place to reduce upfront costs and if the vehicles were available in our market.
Not only will I be advocating for the introduction of legislated vehicle and fuel efficiency standards, but I will also work to enable preferential tax treatments can be used to overcome barriers to uptake while the market matures.
There needs to be a coordinated rollout of charging infrastructure and all levels of government should be procuring EVs for their fleets to help drive market development and reduce the risks for importers.
In this space, Australia needs to catch up to the rest of the world and ensure we transition from one of the dirtiest fuel and cars fleets on the planet to a fleet which is low to no emissions and also offers significant transitional power as it relates to access to batteries to power homes and feed the grid.
Do you own/drive an EV? If yes, which type?
Like many Australians, I would love to have an EV and am frustrated that the Morrison government has held back the inevitable electrification of public and private transport.
Beyond of the issue of climate change, what is your highest policy priority?
When I look at Canberra and listen to people in my community it’s clear we’re not being heard – the two-party system is failing us.
It is imperative we have a Federal ICAC with teeth to tackle the distortions in our economy and prevent waste, mismanagement and rorting.
We must restore accountability and respect, which is why my community and I are working so hard to ‘change the climate in Canberra’!