A renewable-energy investor will challenge the major parties' grip on the ACT's Senate seats with an appeal to moderate voters disenchanted with the Liberals and Labor.
Anthony Pesec is launching his campaign on Monday after watching the rise of independent MPs interstate, believing it will change the way Canberrans vote too.
The former investment banker and civil engineer has the backing of former Canberra Liberals president Gary Kent and could draw the support of Alex Turnbull, the son of the deposed prime minister.
Fighting the long-established hold of the Labor and Liberal parties on the ACT's two Senate seats, Mr Pesec says a change in the political wind has created an opening for a centrist in the federal election, expected in May.
"We’re seeing the rise of independents nationwide, we’re also seeing it globally, so we don’t think that the current parties are that representative, for want of a better word, of the 'sensible centre'," he said.
"We’re seeing an opportunity now to represent that demographic."
Mr Pesec, 43, trained and worked as a civil engineer before moving to Europe, where he joined Barclays Capital in London and later created a corporate finance consultancy in Croatia.
After returning in 2015, he's living back in Chapman on Weston Creek's fringe, where his Croatian-born parents raised him. He's built IES, a renewable energy developer operating solar photovoltaic assets, and selling clean energy to other businesses and embassies.
Australia's failure to settle on a climate policy is behind Mr Pesec's tilt at the Senate. His investments in renewable energy brought him into contact with Alex Turnbull, who shares his views on the need for a shift to renewables.
Mr Turnbull has committed to funding independent, locally-based "small-L liberal" candidates who back climate change action and are running in key Coalition seats, including those of conservative Liberals Tony Abbott and Energy Minister Angus Taylor. Support for Mr Pesec would add Liberal right-wing senator Zed Seselja's to the list.
"As an outsider looking to make an approach towards getting into politics, I’ve sought the advice of many people, around not just in Canberra but Australia-wide," Mr Pesec said.
"One of the interested parties is Alex Turnbull. Alex is someone I’ve known from well before my time thinking about running as a senator. We have a common interest in renewable energy investment, we both totally appreciate that this is a rational opportunity for investment and growth here in Australia.
"And that can solve the huge issue of climate change which is very apparent and is very concerning to most voters here in Australia."
When asked if Mr Turnbull was making a financial contribution to his campaign, Mr Pesec said: "We haven't defined anything with any potential financial contributors yet."
Mr Pesec intends to run a well-resourced campaign and has been approached by a number of potential contributors.
He has never been a member of a political party and said he has voted for both major parties in previous elections, most often for the Liberals. The hostility inside the Coalition towards climate change action led it astray, he said.
"With regards to energy policy, it quite often gets categorised as a left-wing issue. I don't view it that way at all, it’s a very objective issue, it’s a very science-based and economic-based issue," he said.
"So I’m not approaching it from an ideological perspective. It’s a shame that conservatives typically think that's not something that can actually be under their umbrella of policies. I don’t agree with that at all."
Mr Pesec also models himself as an advocate for territory rights, which he believes are at risk of being diminished. He opposes the 32-year-old efficiency dividend, an annual funding reduction for Commonwealth government agencies, as "unrealistic" given rising costs and population. Mr Pesec is also against the Coalition policy of relocating government agencies from Canberra, an idea he describes as "horrible".
"Canberra is after all the nation’s capital. Can you imagine in Washington if there was talk of decentralisation or if the president there decided not to live in the White House and instead lived in a nicer apartment in Manhattan? There’d be uproar about it," he said.