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‘If not us, then who?’: Former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel announces tilt at blue ribbon seat

High-profile former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel will stand as an independent for the blue-ribbon Melbourne bayside seat of Goldstein at next year’s federal election.

Daniel will run on a “climate and integrity” platform, supported by local non-aligned community group Voices for Goldstein, drawing inspiration from campaigns won by independents Cathy McGowan and Zali Steggall.

Zoe Daniel is running as an independent in the blue ribbon seat of Goldstein, currently held by Tim Wilson.Credit:Simon Schluter

The Hampton resident is the latest in clutch of climate and integrity-focused female independent candidates who threaten the Liberals’ hold on inner-urban seats, including Allegra Spender in Wentworth, and Kylea Tink in Warringah.

Goldstein, which includes the suburbs of Brighton, Hampton, Bentleigh and Elsternwick, is held by Liberal MP Tim Wilson, (currently the assistant minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction), on a margin of 12.5 per cent.

Daniel worked as a journalist at the ABC for 30 years, including three stints as a foreign correspondent, the last as the ABC’s US bureau chief based in Washington, and covered the Donald Trump presidency.

Having covered bushfires in Australia and California, the aftermath of super storms in Southeast Asia, hurricanes in the US and cyclones in the Pacific, Daniel said she was deeply concerned the federal government wasn’t taking stronger action on climate change.

Member for Goldstein Tim Wilson.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

“I look at my kids and the friends they bring home and I think what’s life going to look like for you guys if none of us actually do anything?” she told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. “If not us, then who? And if not now, when?”

“The people of Goldstein know that that’s happening too, and they really want more substantive policy on this,” she said. “It remains a moral issue, but it’s also now an economic issue if we want to continue the prosperity that we’ve had in Australia.”

Daniel, who is married with two children – a son Arkie, 14, and daughter, Pearl, 13 – was approached to run by the local, non-affiliated group, Voices for Goldstein, which formed early last year.

She said her family discussed the idea for at least a month, and enthusiastically agreed to support her.

Zoe Daniel on assignment.

“My 14-year-old son said to me, ‘Mum, you know, you can change something for us by stepping up to that table’,” she said.

Her campaign is supported by Ms McGowan, who she met 30 years ago when she was a rural reporter for the ABC. She is also supported by former Liberal party leader John Hewson and Ian McPhee, who represented the electorate and was a minister in the Fraser government.

Ms Daniel has never been a member of a political party and says she built a career on her reputation for objectivity in journalism. She describes herself as a swinging voter who assesses each candidate on their policies before voting. In 2016, she voted for Mr Wilson.

When she looked at the group’s priorities, Ms Daniel said they closely matched her own.

The emphasis on climate change, integrity in politics and substantive action on equality for women appealed to her: “It’s a community-driven movement”.

Ms Daniel’s campaign has raised about $100,000 through donations in the community so far. Like other grassroots independent groups, they have received “funding-matching” support from Climate 200, the non-profit group led by clean energy analyst and investor Simon Holmes a Court.

Mr Wilson has been contacted for comment.

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