It was the climate election no one expected and which no major party wanted.
It is now loud and clear that the Australian electorate has moved beyond the climate wars. The devastating wipe-out of moderate Liberals on Saturday night sends a message that must be acknowledged: the heartland of the traditional Liberal Party will move on if the party does not keep up.
Despite poll after poll showing climate as a top concern to the electorate, some of the Coalition members chose to ignore it, and both the Liberals and Nationals lost ground because of an unambitious climate agenda.
In the cities, the Coalition lost blue-ribbon seats like Mackellar, North Sydney, Wentworth and Goldstein, all held by moderate Liberals who helped negotiate the net zero target and who worked hard to keep the party room together on climate issues.
In the regions, the electorate made it clear - they have had enough of politicking for the sake of wedges and divides and want pragmatic action which looks to the billions of dollars of opportunities in transitioning Australia to a low-carbon economy.
The Nationals suffered a two-party-preferred swing against them of more than 5 per cent in Capricornia - where Senator Matt Canavan lives - and a similar swing in Flynn. In Cowper and Nicholls, the Nationals will have to defend both as marginal seats because climate and integrity independents have pulled huge primary votes from them.
It is even more telling when you see how positive the regional pro-climate-action National and Liberal seats did.
Bridget Archer in the regional Tasmanian seat of Bass bucked the national anti-Coalition trend by distancing herself from Mr Morrison and crossing the floor twice. She is openly supportive of climate action, and was a farmer before she went into politics.
Kevin Hogan extended his margin in Page following his response to the floods. In November last year, the Coalition for Conservation (C4C) travelled with Mr Hogan to Glasgow to attend COP26, and he was very open to media that our natural disasters are a direct impact of climate change. He recognises that the core of conservative philosophy and of the case for protecting the environment are one and the same.
The UK conservatives have been successful in uniting the various factions within their party championing environmental issues while maintaining their conservative values. This is the time for the Coalition to also recognise that conservative leadership is climate leadership.
The Coalition has a golden opportunity to regroup and put forward a policy platform that aligns with conservative principles, embracing economic opportunity where the international markets are shifting to, while conserving the environment for future generations.
It must not make the same mistakes of the past: investing in emissions-reduction projects but failing to develop a clear strategy and communication plan; not reaching consensus on climate policies from libertarians to social conservatives to progressives; and presenting difficulties to the more moderate MPs who supported a stronger agenda on climate, putting them between the devil and the deep sea.
Time will tell, reviews will be done and there will be a reckoning. The real task for whoever takes over the leadership will be to bring the Coalition together and to the centre. Wedges no longer work. Australians want a serious and reliable climate plan, and resetting the environmental agenda must be the priority over the next three years.
After all, the concept of environmental protection is intrinsic to both parties. One of the Liberal Party's core beliefs is that is "preserving Australia's natural beauty and the environment for future generations". As for the Nationals, their main mission is "to deliver future security, opportunity and prosperity for all regional Australians, through targeted polices that focus on stronger regional economies, secure communities, a sustainable environment and the highest possible standard of living".
C4C is committed to supporting the Coalition on this important mission. Better late than never.
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