News | 26th Oct, 2014

Magic number 770 could be an environmental game changer in Victorian election

26 October 2014
The Age

The thermometer drawn on the butcher's paper has been taken down from the wall to be updated. A marker pen tap, tap, taps away, filling the gap to a new level, pushing the climb towards the target of 770.

It appears simple and rustic, but the exercise represents the progress being made in a quiet revolution in the way elections could be influenced in Australia.  The 770 represents the number of votes that separate the major parties in three seats – Frankston, Carrum and Mordialloc – based on the redrawn boundaries in place for next month's Victorian election.

The climb towards 770 represents people who have signed a pledge to vote with the environment in mind when they mark their ballot paper on November 29. Five weeks out it is just shy of 600 and is growing.

The pledge is part of a sophisticated, proven campaigning strategy known by the deceptively simple name of community organising. It has been used to great effect in the US, helping deliver Barack Obama to the White House and to secure a second term.

Turning top-down political campaigning on its head, community organising is all about the people, activating and empowering the interested and concerned at the grassroots level. In Victoria, it has been embraced by the state's pre-eminent green lobby group, Environment Victoria, and supported by the powerful activist group GetUp!, which for the first time is campaigning off line and in the field.

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