On Nicolette Boele and why she’s running for Bradfield as an independent
NOTFront Desk News: When we first brought you news of the Movement Voices last year, it was little more than a few whispers around town. Today those voices are starting to sound like a roar and the government is shaking.
On Tuesday, we learned that independents will run in 40 federal seats and challenge 22 Coalition MPs.
One of them is Nicolette Boele and finally, she comes from this industry. It was about time, many will say.
Boele certainly had no intention of representing her local Bradfield headquarters on Sydney’s Lower North Shore, but by the time we caught up with her last week, it was clear she had risen to the challenge at two hands.
His past would have helped. Boele cut his teeth on climate change and dove deep into the responsible finance industry. Among an impressive list of gigs in her resume is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation where she worked with Oliver Yates at the helm (who also tried his hand as a freelancer against Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong).
There was a stint at the Investors Group on Climate Change where she focused on how “to get more capital into assets and businesses to build our new economy” and more recently at Responsible Investment Australasia Association where she was executive director, but started as a volunteer. “When I started, there were three of us; now there are almost 20 and that’s why I felt I could leave,” she said.
Further along was the Climate Venture Capital Fund; Banarra consulting firm; the Low Carbon Investment Registry, the Climate Institute and the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.
So what prompted her to get into politics?
Boele had made the “big resignation”, she said. It was kind of a bookmark for more than a few years of work in human rights, finance and “really exciting” work making sense of finance.
The momentum for climate change is now building in the global financial sector in Europe. The United States under Biden made it a “truly global industry,” which gave him the confidence to quit his job and try something new.
“I’m one of those people who look to the future,” she says.
“I’m a bit of a fixer and even though I hadn’t really planned on getting into politics…when you have some free time you can reconnect with the world and engage in some serious time for reflection.”
“Until I get this email.”
“You live here and you have experience on women’s issues and climate action…why don’t you represent Bradfield?” says the email.
An incident that made her connect when her 19-year-old son asked her who he should vote for, and she replied “no bother”.
It made her realize that this was our democracy she was talking about and maybe she should do something about the answer she gave her son.
“I may be more socially progressive than even some of the Green people I talk to. But I have this dry part of economic rationalism in me. I don’t want the government spending the public’s money on carbon capture and storage.
These are “ideological contortions – it makes no sense”.
Along with time to reflect, reflect, get off the treadmill, there was also time to be stung – and motivated – by another incident. That’s when she bumped into her local member Paul Fletcher.
She asked if he, like Matt Kean, the Liberal NSW Treasurer, thought his party could do better than aiming for net zero by 2050. But Fletcher replied: ‘Don’t estimate how badly he’s been difficult to obtain this agreement.”
Boele wanted him to say more, that he cared about the future of our children.
“I needed him to say, yes it’s hard but I care. But he didn’t.
Overall, companies understand, says Boele. They have emission reduction targets, including China.
“And yet we are failing the communities of the Hunter Valley [in NSW] and the Galilee and Bowen basins in Queensland where we know structural adjustment is underway.
In 2022, the independents are gone
“The reason I’m not joining a party is because the independent angle in 2022 is the weapon to unlock.
“I don’t want to throw away the party system, but they [the two major parties] both seem to have failed.
Boele says coalitions by their nature struggle to make decisions because they have to keep their junior partners happy to stay in power.
“There is a corporate capture. Corporate capture means you don’t get decisions in the national interest.
[Read Scott Ludlam’s book Full Circle for more on that, but be prepared to become deeply uncomfortable.]
“For the past 25 years, Labor and Liberals and even the Greens have been unable to deliver meaningful results on climate policy because they are captured by single interest groups,” she says.
Will the independents take another form?
With the number of independents rising so strongly and the chance that a number of them will make it to Canberra, is there any chance they’ll start to look like a new party? Or coalition?
After all, the practical bargaining needed to get key policies passed is part and parcel of politics, isn’t it?
Boele says no. The difference is that for the Liberals-Nationals Coalition, the alliance is a “true blood contract”. The junior partner must guarantee government procurement.
With the independents, Boele says there will be no new party. She may envision great collaboration or “almost aggressive sharing” of knowledge on issues such as finding resources or how to get elected. read the book Ruth McGowan, Get elected, She suggests.
Most importantly though, “It’s about bringing integrity.”
The thing about Scott Morrison versus former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, says Boele, is with Howard you might not have much in common with him, but you knew where it was.
“When I look at the Prime Minister’s current file – I try to be generous – I can’t think of a legacy item, not a single one.”
So what engages the Bradfield electorate that stretches from Chatswood and Castlecove to Hornsby and Asquith?
About 48% of the electorate is foreign-born, Boele says. Many have moved there to access good schools for their children and it has the highest number of people with higher education – not the wealthiest like Wentworth’s demographics.
Their concerns are about development, the economy and lifestyle – and they tend to vote Liberal.
Among the messages she hears is that people don’t want Australia to go the way of the United States. Which is piercing given the rise of anti-vaxxer “freedom” movements.
But climate change is Boele’s main motivation. That and integrity.
When it comes to climate action, she says, parties have tried but they still can’t do what needs to be done, she says.
The impact of the Glasgow climate talks that managed to secure a net zero commitment by 2050, which ‘means nothing’, is simmering.
“It has been 25 years since we signed the Kyoto Protocol. It is absolutely a question of repairing the climate and the essential thing is to restore the integrity of Parliament.
Key to her promise if elected is to make decisions in the national interest and to be “aggressively transparent” and restore integrity. “That’s the only reason I run.”
But there’s no illusion that this path she’s on will be difficult.
“It’s a tough race,” she said The fifth state“but extremely exciting.
I can’t believe how many people in the electorate really want change.
Boele says the margin is quite large in favor of the incumbent – has a primary vote of 62%. That means she needs 12% of her vote, which she thinks is entirely possible.
Overall, she’s hoping for 25% but aiming for 30%, just to be sure.
“It is no longer the safe seat it used to be. There are many disgruntled women.