Farmer, teacher Tony Lonergan is Greens candidate for the New England

PASSIONATE: Aberdeen farmer and Scone High School teacher Tony Lonergan will stand for the Greens.
PASSIONATE: Aberdeen farmer and Scone High School teacher Tony Lonergan will stand for the Greens.

THE Greens candidate for New England says as a science teacher and a farmer, it's clear something has to be done about climate change before it's too late.

After a tilt in the recent state election, standing for The Greens in the Upper Hunter, Tony Lonergan will again run for the party, and plans to hold incumbent MP Barnaby Joyce to account for his lack of climate change policy.

Mr Lonergan said he was extremely passionate about the issue, which he described as "really worrying".

As a science teacher, he understands why it's happening, and as a farmer, he's felt the effects - the Aberdeen cattle farmer had to get rid of all his stock a year ago, as he struggled to feed them.

"I've been through droughts before but this one has been different," he said.

"I've never been completely de-stocked before, and I've never seen my neighbours do so either."


Mr Lonergan said the National Party was "completely out of step" with the science on climate change and what action was needed to prevent a "climate emergency".

"I wanted to run federally because, apart from Tony Abbott, no one has done more to prevent action on climate change than Barnaby Joyce," he said.

"At the [New England] by-election, I went to an event Barnaby Joyce was at in Scone. I asked him about climate change and he just fobbed it off and basically refused to answer the question."

Mr Lonergan said the Nationals had also lost its way by putting the "interests of coal and gas above the interests of farmers".

"I know in the last election, the Nationals campaigned heavily for the coal industry," he said.

"That's been a real problem for a lot of farmers here. The Nationals are more concerned with mining than farming."

The Greens have struggled to get a foothold in New England, historically polling in the low single figures. However, Mr Lonergan had a message to the electorate's voters.

"People concerned about climate change, vote one the Greens and preference whoever is going to best deal with the problem," Mr Lonergan said.

"If there is a high Greens vote, that sends a message to the other parties.

"It would be nice if the Nationals woke up to the realities of climate change, and what farmers in particular are feeling."

This story Farmer, teacher and Greens candidate for the New England first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.