Climate concerns trigger independent run

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Another candidate has joined a growing army of independents taking aim at coalition seats ahead of the federal election.

Nationals MP Damian Drum is facing a challenge in his safe Victorian seat of of Nicholls driven by frustration over tortured coalition climate negotiations.

Greater Shepparton deputy mayor Rob Priestly is attempting to capitalise on demand in safe coalition seats for deeper emissions cuts and jobs in clean energy and industry.

“At the end of the day, my beef’s not with Damian Drum, it’s his boss and those that have the numbers in the National Party,” Mr Priestly told AAP on Friday.

Mr Drum is among the moderate Nationals who believe a position will be struck on net zero emissions by 2050, but says it will require adequate checks and balances.

“Ultimately, Damian’s part of the party and he’s got a role with their policy positions. And their policy positions are really going to be devastating for our community,” Mr Priestly said.

“We need a leadership that represents the interests of our community, not a party position”.

He says he hasn’t spoken with Simon Holmes a Court’s Climate 200 group that has amassed a $1.7 million war chest to bankroll pro-climate action independents in a number of seats.

“My intention is to try and raise all the funds I need from within my community and be really transparent about that,” Mr Priestly said.

“I’m happy to have a talk to whoever about it, but at the end of the day there’s things that are deeply wrong with the way funds are raised in politics in Australia.”

The Nationals party room will meet on Sunday to assess the plan, which was discussed in detail at a federal cabinet meeting this week.

Mr Drum’s office was contacted for comment.

The federal election is due by May 2022.

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