Federal election: Climate change candidates share consulting backgrounds

09 February 2022 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read
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Frustrated by the government’s response on climate change, a wave of independent female candidates with consulting backgrounds are putting their hands up for this year’s federal election.

It’s been almost a decade and a half since ‘Kevin 07’ swept into office on the back of a climate change mandate – before being ousted by his own party due to opposition and industry-driven unpopularity over proposals for an emissions trading scheme and mining super-tax.

Now, a string of female independent candidates campaigning for climate action are lining up for a shot at this year’s federal election, many of them with a background in consulting.

Allegra Spender, Kate Chaney and Nicolette Boele

Allegra Spender

The daughter of late fashion designer Carla Zampatti and former Liberal politician John Spender, Allegra Spender is hoping to dislodge Liberal incumbent Dave Sharma from the high-profile NSW seat of Wentworth, Australia’s wealthiest. After completing her Bachelor of Economics at Cambridge University, Spender kicked off her career with McKinsey & Company, spending two years as a business analyst in the management consultancy’s London office.

A renewable energy advocate and former chair of the Sydney Renewable Power Company, Spender has most recently served as CEO of the Australian Business and Community Network, a non-profit which seeks to address educational disadvantage by connecting students of lower socio-economic backgrounds with mentors from participating organisations. Members include Accenture and management consultancies Bain & Company and Nous Group.

Spender told the Sydney Morning Herald that the environment was her core motivation for nominating. “Both from a climate point of view and an economic point of view, this is an urgent issue, and it’s the next ten years that’s really important. It’s an environmental crisis and an economic opportunity,” Spender said, continuing the theme at a rally; “Everyone knows we cannot afford one more electoral cycle of spin, denial and inaction on climate change.”

Kate Chaney

On the opposite side of the country, former Boston Consulting Group principal Kate Chaney is contesting Curtin, a similarly wealthy blue-ribbon Liberal seat in WA. Prior to her run for office, Chaney spent four and a half years as Director of Innovation and Strategy at Anglicare WA, before which she served as an independent consultant and led a non-profit project for BCG – one of her two stints at the firm following an earlier two and a half year spell in Sydney.

Chaney, who holds a law degree from the University of Western Australia and MBA from UNSW Business School, has also worked with management consultancy Partners in Performance, and spent five years with Westfarmers as Manager for Aboriginal Affairs and then Sustainability Manager, during which she developed and implemented a sustainability approach across the Wesfarmers Group.

Greater efforts on decarbonisation is a key policy plank of Chaney’s campaign.

Nicolette Boele

Back in Sydney, Nicolette Boele (a Dutch surname pronounced ‘Buller’) has thrown her hat in the ring for the North Shore seat of Bradfield, another perennial Liberal stronghold. Until recently the executive manager for RIAA (Responsible Investment Association Australasia), Boele has been working in the field of sustainability for over two decades, including as principal for environment & climate change at human rights and CSR consultancy Banarra.

Later elevated to Associate, Boele altogether spent six years with Banarra to 2015, when the consultancy was acquired by KPMG (founder Richard Boele was late last year installed as the Big Four’s first ever Chief Purpose Officer).

Among numerous other environmentally-focussed business leadership roles, the independent candidate also previously served as a senior program and policy officer with the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.

Other candidates

A number of other independent candidates running on similar community and climate platforms also have experience in various forms of consulting. For example, Linda Seymour, candidate for Hughes – held by notorious climate change denialist and Covid-19 conspiracy peddler Craig Kelly – has been a communications consultant for decades.

North Sydney independent Kylea Tink meanwhile spent over eight years at communications consultancy Edelman.