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Members

2019 election

The ESA has released a 2019 Election Message, calling on our nation’s leaders and those seeking election to commit to five urgent actions:

  1. Strengthen the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (1999)(EPBC Act) to provide a robust framework for upholding environmental protection and accountability;
  2. Implement evidence-based development of policy and decisions, informed by best available ecological science; 
  3. Increase Commonwealth investment in environmental spending to a minimum of 2% of GDP;
  4. Develop mechanisms for increased representation of Indigenous communities in ecosystem policy and management decisions; and
  5. Make Australia a top 10 global investor in research and development by increasing Commonwealth investment in the Science and Innovation portfolio to at least 3% of GDP, with clear mechanisms for funding long-term research.

Read the 2019 ESA Election Message here.

Why release an election message?

The purpose of the ESA is ‘to promote the ecological discipline in all its forms, to support the application of the principles in ecology to protect and conserve ecological systems, and to promote the exchange of ecological knowledge for educational purposes and cultural development’.

Australia is now a world-leader in species decline and extinction, and habitat degradation. We have seen Commonwealth Government investment in the Environment slashed from $1.4 billion in 2013/14 to $945 million in 2017/18. As it stands, further cuts projected to 2020/21 could translate to a reduction of up to 65% in federal spending on environment and biodiversity. Alongside this, public investment in science is now at a 40-year low, with insufficient growth in STEM-qualified graduates to meet future job needs.

In this context, the ESA has released this statement to draw attention to key issues for the protection and conservation of Australia’s ecosystems, to highlight the contribution of ecology in delivering solutions that can help Australia, and to promote the exchange of ecological knowledge with the wider community and those seeking to govern our country.

We are not seeking to endorse political parties or candidates, nor to advise anyone on who to vote for. We are seeking to stimulate dialogue about matters that affect the future practice of ecology as part of Australia’s STEM sector, and matters that influence Australia’s ecosystems.

What can I do?

The ESA Election Message will have the most impact if it is shared personally with as many candidates for election as possible. You can help by contacting your local candidates (not just the sitting Member!) and talking to them about your work, the difference it makes, and what you’re concerned about for the future of ecology in Australia and the future of our ecosystems.

The more candidates that are contacted, the more likely our concerns will be heard. As one of their voting constituents, your opinion holds a lot of weight. 

How to contact candidates for election

If you do decide to make contact with your local candidates, with or without our Election Message, we hope the following step-by-step guide will help you prepare your letter or email to them.  

  1. To find your electorate, go to https://electorate.aec.gov.au.
  2. Using your postcode, search for your local MP here https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members. This will also bring up all your State Senators who will also be good to contact, if possible. 
  3. As we enter an election it will be key that we also aim to influence local candidate members. To find their contact details, go to your electorate here http://www.tallyroom.com.au/aus2019/alphafed2019

Please do not hesitate to contact us at the Policy WG by reply email (esa.policy@gmail.com) for help finding candidate contact details. 

Write a letter

  1. In preparing your letter or email, we have developed a template (see below) that can be edited, personalised and forwarded with the ESA Election Message. 
  2. While we believe the key points in our Message represent the ESA’s concerns for Australia’s ecology as a whole we strongly encourage you to ‘personalise’ your email.  
    1. For example, if your local MP has already made positive steps in the environment or sustainability sectors, you could thank them for the action they have already taken. 
    2. Explaining why a particular ecological issue is important to you could make a big impact. You could do this by including a relevant personal experience or example. Storytelling used in conjunction with statistics is crucial in helping politicians understand the need for change. 
  3. Be clear on what action you want your MP to take, for e.g. making a speech in parliament, raising the issue during the election campaign, attending a local event, etc. See tips below for face-to-face meetings.

Template letter/email

[Mr/Mrs/Dr/Ms, First name initial, last name, MP]

Member for [Electorate]

Address

Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Mr/Mrs/Dr/Ms,

I am a constituent of your electorate and an ecologist.  I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned about the state of Australia’s environment and how it will fair under your leadership if you are elected at the upcoming federal election.

[Personal experience, example and/or concerns]

I am also interested in your response to the attached Election Message from the Ecological Society of Australia, and specifically the following urgent actions recommended therein:

  1. Strengthen the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (1999)to provide a robust framework for upholding environmental protection and accountability; 
  2. Implement evidence-based development of policy and decisions, informed by best available ecological science; 
  3. Increase Commonwealth investment in environmental spending to a minimum of 2% of GDP; 
  4. Develop mechanisms for increased representation of Indigenous communities in ecosystem policy and management decisions; and 
  5. Make Australia a top 10 global investor in research and development by increasing 
  6. Commonwealth investment in the Science and Innovation portfolio to at least 3% of GDP, with clear mechanisms for funding long-term research. 

Can you please tell me what your policies are in relation to each of these five matters?

[Include any other specific ‘asks’ or calls for action here – e.g. a meeting). 

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely, 

[Your name]

 

Face-to-face meetings

  1. Before a meeting or any communication with a candidate or elected member:
  • Do your research, know your audience
  • What are your areas of alignment and connection?
  • What’s the legacy they want to leave?
  • What is the science or advice you can deliver to help?
  • Identify the solutions you have to offer – never offer problems without solutions.
  • Clarify: problem, solution, and what they can do about it. Have a clear request to make of them, that’s not just about funding
  • Be prepared to be flexible/adaptable on a meeting time and location
  1. At the meeting:
  • Don’t be scared to be human and advocate. Personalise the story. Sometimes it helps to have a prop or give them a small item that helps to demonstrate your point or make it memorable.
  • Be respectful – criticise policies / issues / decisions, not the person
  • Stay in your area of expertise. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so – either take it on notice to get back to them, or suggest another expert they could talk to for the answer
  • Listen
  • Create the opportunity for a follow up – invite them to visit your institution, field site, conference etc.
  1. After the meeting:
  • Always follow up – an email and/or phone call to their office to say thanks
  • Reiterate your invitation for them to visit you
  • Stay in touch – even though you may not get a response, regular communication about developments in your research or the issues you discussed with the Parliamentarian can make a difference
  • Sometimes you will make a difference without knowing it – don’t expect someone to call you to say thanks and point out how your conversation influenced a policy decision
  1. Remember:
  • You don’t have to go it alone, get together with other colleagues in pairs or small groups (ESA can help with this – please contact us)
  • Science has allies on all sides of parliament, even if they don’t seem obvious
  • Play the field – you can speak with candidates from all sides, and if you live in one electorate but work in another feel free to contact candidates in both locations
  • Policy-making and politics are different
  • It’s not only Ministers who can make a difference - don’t underestimate the power of a backbencher

If you'd like to stay up to date with our election activities, and be notified when further resources become available, please let us know who you are and how we can contact you via this online form