Climate and environment policies were key priorities for voters at the May 21 election in the regional NSW seats of Gilmore, Page and Eden-Monaro, according to exit polling.
The poll conducted by YouGov for Farmers for Climate Action and released on Tuesday found around two thirds of people interviewed across the three electorates said “effective climate change policies” were important to their vote.
Drilling down deeper, in the seat of Gilmore which takes in bushfire-impacted towns like Manyana, Conjola Park and Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast, almost half of voters said climate and the environment were in the top three issues informing their vote.
The black summer bushfires destroyed hundreds of homes in the region in 2020, and hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest was decimated.
In another bushfire-affected seat of Eden-Monaro, which runs from Queanbeyan to the NSW south coast, more than 40 per cent also rated the environment and climate in their top three reasons for voting.
In the NSW north coast seat of Page, which includes Lismore and other areas impacted by unprecedented flooding this year, 44 per cent ranked climate change and environment as their top priorities.
More than 300 voters were interviewed on election day for the poll, with up to a third of the voters surveyed saying they or their family worked in agriculture.
Farmers for Climate Action chief executive Fiona Davis said the results proved country voters supported strong policy to reduce emissions this decade and protect the farmers who grow our food.
Dr Davis said it was now “irrefutable” that country voters backed strong climate policy and deep emissions reductions this decade.
“Rural and regional voters understand the opportunities strong climate policy brings them,” Dr Davis said.
“Rural people are starting to see the really big renewables and hydrogen projects rolling out now, bringing thousands of sustainable jobs to their regions.”
Dr Davis said it was also clear rural Coalition MPs who backed strong climate policy were rewarded.
She pointed to nationals MP Kevin Hogan receiving a five per cent swing on preferences in the seat of Page, and Liberal candidate Andrew Constance insulating himself against a big anti-coalition swing in Gilmore.
“We need strong climate policy to drive deep emissions reductions this decade to protect the farmers who grow our food,” she said.
“Country people have seen the opportunity. Our 7000 farmer members see the opportunity. We hope country politicians do too.”