CLIMATE change is among the top election concerns for regional Australian, but it remains to be seen if the issue is a vote swinger, political experts say.
A recent survey by Australian Community Media asked more than 500 of its agricultural publication readers for their top three election issues. Climate change ranked second, with almost half of responders (45.9 per cent) put climate change in their top three, just behind regional infrastructure (47.9pc).
Sydney University politics and policy lecturer Dr Peter Chen said farmers were on the front end of climate change and while the issue had become a mainstream issue, it may not be a vote winner.
"There are issues people will express as important, and there are issues that people will vote on," Dr Chen said.
"Whether climate change has reached the threshold to switch their vote is the big question mark."
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Australian National University political science emeritus professor John Warhurst said during elections aspirational ideas usually took a back seat to "bricks and mortar".
"Regional infrastructure is a traditional National Party policy, climate change is a much more changing stance for them. It will certainly be interesting to see whether they're misjudging the audience's interest in climate action and need to adjust to a change in culture in the bush."
Regardless of the extent climate change will shift votes, Dr Chen said the Nationals - particularly the climate critical sections of its party such as Senator Matt Canavan - had to be careful not to be caught wrong footed.
"Even if they aren't voting their vote around on it, you don't want to be caught in a big shift," he said.
"Think about same-sex marriage, it goes from an issue that no one cares about to one people are passionately engaged in. The public switched quickly, and you've got to be careful in politics not to get caught out in a switch."
Dr Chen said the slap down Senator Canavan received from his fellow Nationals after declaring net zero was "dead" - which included both former party leader Michael McCormack and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry telling him to "pull his head in" - showed the party clearly didn't want to campaign on anti-climate platform anymore
Australian Farm Institute chief executive Richard Heath said support for climate action policies had moved into the mainstream thinking across the agriculture industry and regional Australia.
"Any party doesn't recognise that is selling short the insights those communities have on the issue," he said.
Mr Heath was surprised only 23.4pc of people put the labour shortage in their top three election issues, but believed voters were aware to solve the problem, the root causes had to be addressed, such as health and education (42.5pc), and infrastructure.
"There's a level of sophistication in regional voters in understanding the core issue with the labour shortage," he said.
"Regional people know unless you have the regional services - good hospitals and schools, decent roads - you won't attract a decent labour force."