The challenge from teal independentsLiberal seats
The teal independents polled significantly higher than expected and appear to have won a number of new seats in the House of Representatives. As Liberal Party commentator Tony Barry told the ABC, “the Liberals have lost their base”. It was not a blood bath, but a “teal bath”.
The success of neurologist Monique RyanWho looks poised to win the blue-ribbon Kooyong seat from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg? However, teal candidates have won other electorates in Melbourne Sydney Perth Canberra.
Teal independents seek Liberal voters and deceive Liberal MPs.
The teal wave
When we are talking about “teals” we are talking about the 23 independent candidates, most of them women, who have challenged traditionally Liberal-held seats or Senate spots. All of them have received support from Climate 200, a fundraising organization.
Simon Holmes a Court, Climate 200 convener credited the success, especially in inner Melbourne, to a large volunteer effort. “This community independents movement is incredible,” he told the ABC.
The results so far
The counting is still in progress and it is important to note that major parties will be favored by high numbers pre-poll and postal votes. We will need to monitor some of these seats over the coming days before we can confirm the results.
Antony Green, an ABC election analyst, has already given:
- North Sydney elects independent Kylea Tink to defeat Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman
- Mackellar to GP Sophie Scamps, defeating Liberal MP Jason Falinski
- Goldstein and Zoe Daniel, former ABC journalist, defeated Liberal MP Tim Wilson.
Neben Kooyong, Allegra Spender, the business leader, was ahead Liberal MP Dave Sharma in Wentworth.
Independents Kate Chaney Perth’s CurtinRob Priestly regional Victoria’s NichollsAs Saturday’s counting closes, they were also fighting hard. Caz Heise in CowperIn northern NSW, there was also a strong independent vote.
Other independents who had Climate 200 backing were also reelected easily: Zali Stewart in Warringah; Helen Haines In Indi; Andrew Wilkie in Clark; Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie (Mayo).
Take into consideration the Elections likely of Dai Le – a non-Climate 200 independent candidate against Labor’s Kristina Keneally in Sydney’s Fowler – the independent numbers on the cross bench could double in size.
The Senate race is close between teal candidate David Pocock and Zed Seselja, the incumbent Liberal senator.
What does this all mean?
These results are far better than what was expected before the polls closed. We can see that there was a clear vote for the Greens in Queensland, with particularly strong results. This is a vote for more action on climate and gender equality, as well as more integrity in politics. These were the core pillars of their campaigns.
Voters who would normally have voted for a moderate Liberal, but would have been unlikely to vote Labor or Greens, were given a viable choice – and they took it with both hands.
In an election that has seen many unexpected results, this bloc of independents is going change the composition of lower house. We will soon find out if Labor will rule as a majority or minority, and the exact nature of their power and role.
These results also mean the Liberal Party has lost its moderate MPs.
Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham lamented the loss of his colleague Zimmerman on Saturday night, saying the party would have to “make up for the absence of those [moderate] voices”.
Birmingham also blamed the “contagion effect” of Katherine Deves’ controversial candidacy In Warringah, the neighboring seat, Deves argued that this has turned potential Liberal voter in other seats. Deves might have had a similar negative effect on the campaigns of long-held Liberal seats in the North Shore or surrounding areas such as Mackellar, Bennelong and Bennelong.
These results, however, are indicative of something far more serious than a preselection problem.
It is time to do some soul-searching within the party and decide how it will fight for these seats in the future. Where will be party’s base lie in the future?
Meanwhile a new crop of MPs have given “politics as usual” a huge shock.
From the beginnings of Cathy McGowan’s victory in Indi in 2013, we now have an established model for community-backed candidates to win seats in parliament. While the teals will need to learn a lot in Canberra without the support of established parties, they have already made a big difference.
Similar challenges are likely to be faced by Labor and Liberal seats in the elections to follow. The Australian political system is on alert.