Networks And Money: How The Wealthiest Australians Reap More Than Their Fair Share Of Political Influence

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The Teal Independents’ success in the May 2022 federal election lifted many voters’ spirits who had been disappointed by the gridlock and lack of integrity in Australian politics.

“Teal is a political revolution, and it’s happening in Australia,” Margot Saville of Melbourne University Press writes. “More than eight hundred registered independent politicians are now standing for office – in local, state and federal elections across the country.”

The first teal elected was Bob Katter at the 2010 Queensland state election. The next significant breakthrough came when Zali Steggall became the first independent elected at a federal level since 1975, defeating Tony Abbott in Warringah. The teal independents’ success was repeated at the May 2022 election when seven teals won seats from the Liberal Party.

The party won six seats from the Liberal Party, returned four independents – Zali Steggall in Warringah, Helen Haines in Indi, Rebekah Sharkie in Mayo, and Andrew Wilkie in Clark – and sent David Pocock to the Senate.

This success is because “they are about more than just a seat and a vote in parliament. It’s about fundamentally rebuilding trust and changing the way we do politics,” Saville writes.

Teal candidates campaign on local issues like housing affordability, health services, climate change, and access to education. Rather than creating an alternative political party from scratch, teal candidates join existing parties as independents. They then focus their efforts on vast electorates rather than in local areas.

The Victorian election last weekend was the first test of whether or not the teals would have a significant impact in different states. Targeting Liberal electorates in a state that Labor held, three candidates ran very close to winning: Sophie Torney in Kew, Melissa Lowe in Hawthorn, and Kate Lardner in Mornington.

The close race in Victoria was caused by insufficient funding, the lack of notable candidates, and because the Andrews Labor government (who won in the end) differed from Scott Morrison’s Coalition government. Those planning to run in the New South Wales election in 2023 will have observed this event.

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