A Tuesday night meeting between New South Wales solar industry representatives and candidates for the federal seat of Warringah was missing a key figure – the sitting member and former PM himself, Liberal candidate Tony Abbott.
The Sundowners meeting, which bills itself as “democratically operated solar networking event,” targeted Warringah for its connection to a number of locally-based solar companies, including Edify Energy, Wirsol, Genex Power, Next Tracker and Autonomous Energy.
In an email confirming the event, organisers said all candidates standing for election in the seat that takes in parts of Sydney's North Shore and Northern Beaches had been invited, so that they could “meet and greet the many good people in our solar industry.”
And that they did – except for Tony Abbott.
Sources at the 300-plus person meeting tell RenewEconomy that candidates from across various parties – see image above – agreed that it was time for a change: nationally, on energy policy, and locally in Warringah, on having a sitting member who cares about the solar industry.
All the candidates who turned up also spoke to the Sundowners attendees about the need to put a stop to a decade of climate wars, and the role of the solar industry in delivering the jobs of the future.
Except for Tony Abbott.
Of course, it is no surprise that the notoriously anti-renewables Abbott would not attend such a meeting – the industry folk gathered at the Manly Wharf Hotel certainly weren't expecting him to come.
But in light of his tenuous hold on the electorate – and with opponents the likes of independent Zali Steggall campaigning on a platform of climate and renewables – it might have been advisable.
As Michael Mazengarb reported here
, the normally a blue-ribbon Liberal saw several hundred protestors to take to the streets of Manly two Sundays ago, buoyed by an encouraging poll that suggested Abbott's time in parliament could be up.
The Lonergan poll showed Steggall leading Abbott 56-44 on a two-candidate preferred basis, with Abbott's primary vote falling to 38 percent, down considerably from his historical support levels of consistently greater than 50 percent.
The poll of 805 residents of the Warringah electorate also showed climate change and the environment as the two leading issues of concern for voters, outranking the economy.
Sophie is editor of One Step Off The Grid
and deputy editor of its sister site, Renew Economy
. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.