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The Great Teal Tsunami: Arise Australia’s Independents

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The Great Teal Tsunami: Arise Australia’s Independents

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Written by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Rarely in Australian history has a governing party suffered such loss in the face of an opponent unable to claim complete victory.  It said much about the disillusionment, and plain disgust, from that nebulous centre of the country’s politics.  That centre roared on May 21, consuming sitting government members and inflicting a bloody reckoning.

That reckoning was made in traditional inner-city seats that have never known anyone other than conservative members.  It was part of a “teal” electoral tsunami, comprising candidates who would not necessarily wish to vote for Labor or the Greens, but who had found the Liberal-National government of Scott Morrison impossible to stomach on matters ranging from gender equality to climate change.

In the Melbourne seat of Goldstein, held by the Liberal Party’s Tim Wilson, former ABC journalist Zoe Wilson stormed through.  It was a showing most fitting: the electorate is named after Vera Goldstein, feminist and women’s rights campaigner who, in 1903, was the first woman to stand for election in a national parliament.  “She ran as an independent several times,” Wilson said in a telling reminder, “because she was so independent that she couldn’t bring herself to run for either of the major parties.”

In the same city, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, was overwhelmed by Dr Monique Ryan in Kooyong.  (Postal votes are currently being tallied, but it does not seem likely that Ryan will lose.)  This loss for the Liberals will be keenly felt, given Frydenberg’s leadership aspirations.

The story was repeated in Sydney, with the same narrative directed like a dagger at the Morrison government: You, fossil fuel devotees, mocked climate change, disregarded gender equality, and sneered at policing corruption in federal politics.  Wentworth went to businesswoman Allegra Spender, who had, during the course of her campaign, managed to assemble an army of 1200 volunteers.

Spender’s team, comprising a number of company directors, many women, is a revealing sign that movements can take root in the arid soil of caution that is Australian politics.  “You said you were standing for the community, not the party,” she told supporters, “for taking responsibility, not blaming, for compassion, not division and for the future, not the past.”

In the seat of North Sydney, held by the mild-mannered Liberal Trent Zimmerman, a victorious Kylea Tink reiterated the laundry list issues that had motivated the teal revolution.  “The majority things for me,” she told Crikey, “are climate action, integrity and addressing inequality.”

The victory of the various independents was the Liberal Party’s version of the Trojan Horse, one that had found itself parked in their heartland seats and released on election night.  It was a triumph of community organisation, not rusted party politics, despite Wilson’s fulminations about sinister external forces at work. It was the apotheosis of a movement that began with Cathy McGowan, the Victorian independent who won the rural seat of Indi in 2013.

This was also an election which delivered the highest Greens vote ever.  Queensland, almost always the deciding state, may well furnish two, possibly three Greens members in the House of Representatives.  The Greens leader, Adam Bandt, put much it down to the turbulent, vicious weather of recent times.  “We’ve just had three years of droughts and then fires and then floods and then floods again and people can see that this is happening.”

Remarkably for the group, they managed to win the Liberal-held seat of Ryan in the process.  They are also on the hunt in the Labor-held Melbourne seat of Macnamara.  “We are now on planet Greensland,” exclaimed the Greens candidate Elizabeth Watson-Brown on realising her triumph in Ryan, “and we are taking it forward.”

While the Labor opposition have good reason to cheer the prospect of forming government in almost a decade, other facts are impossible to ignore.  The Greens continued their now established historical trend of eating away at Labor’s vote in inner suburban areas, notably in Queensland.

Across several states, the party actually suffered, along the Liberal National coalition, a precipitous fall in the primary vote.  To form government on such a low primary return is staggering and says much about the loss of appeal of the established parties.  “It would be an unusual win for Labor,” noted a sour editorial from the Australian Financial Review, “with no grand policy ambitions or sweeping difference from the incumbent Coalition government.”  Only Western Australia, keen to punish the Morrison government, arrested that tendency, and may end up giving Anthony Albanese a majority.

Labor also bungled in the previously safely held south-west Sydney seat of Fowler, where Kristina Keneally, who had only lived in the electorate for a brief spell, missed out to local grassroots independent, Dai Le.  The swing of almost 18 per cent away from Labor shows that Keneally, when she suffers defeat, does so in grandly catastrophic fashion.  The story of this debacle is also salutary to major parties who parachute heavy weight politicians into seats as part of party and personal ambition, rather than the interests of voters.

While the bruised LNP will lick their wounds and rue their ignorance of the community movement that gathered pace under their noses, Australia’s major parties will have to consider a new phenomenon: the non-career parliamentarian, one who enters parliament, not for party allegiance and faction but for voter representation and change.  For the Westminster model of government, this is indeed a stunning novelty.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He currently lectures at RMIT University.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com


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Take heed USA Voters. Australia’s 2 party duopoly just got smashed with 15 independents voted in. Now can the US do the same and destroy the 2 party duopoly that has bogged down the US for many years?


The neo lib/nats buckled at their knees the next two years of terms to reach a level of degradation in real economic developments to a historic loss,putting the currecncy from 80 to 70 to the us dolla,

The other fact Real Australians have no time of day for nazis or fascism nor christian rascism in much as these belligerant war monkey wannabes pursued in irrelevant,needless and diabolical sabotages, more than enough to bring on not just a sound defeat but moreso the absolute bloodbath in so much as lawfully this could have ever been yet finally done!

yes libs will go to the dustbin of history with no valid merits whatsoever,over the last 9 years/nazis! Of course they deserved the timely defeat,if anything they cannot ever deal when recession sets in, Atleast the Labour party before,showed the western world how to get out of recession,unlike nazis!

They earnt the reputation to be the fascists of democracy,whom assume only the very few corrupted pro genocide unaustralian rants deserve wealth,yet Dutton used to be their cia/conning nazi wanka worse yet astound toward dumber than dumb historic record debts,where before China gave surplus, as this election clearlys proven the truth sticks,bottom line no more soros/askenazi/hijack freedom:

There was no other feasable way to get them deep state neo-askenazis out of power the proper way.


@Truthseeker: I don’t see it happening before the ongoing second civil war comes to a halt. Up to the 90s there was a cross-generational, geographic and social approval of the American way of life, capitalism and all, and although the cracks were visible the culture was optimistic. Now the issues are everywhere you look at, pessimism reigns, and when asked what to do next, Boomers and Zoomers, Rednecks and Yanks/Californians, keep disagreeing, and that seems to explain why American politics have become so polarized. The global metro cities (21st century capitalism) are casting off American exceptionalism.

I remember it wasn’t like that 20 years ago. The duopoly was seen as healthy competiton within an accepted common frame and you would have game theorists pondering on its great merits. If this is turned sour so quickly this means it reflects a real schism in America. The gerrymander was invented 200 years ago so it’s not a factor.

Tom Bombastadillo

In USA, all important elections are electronically rigged. There is no hope until the counterfeit-based US economy finally collapses. Though it is presented as a grand show for the plebes, politics has nothing to do with elections in USA–it is all nothing but organized crime based on counterfeit currency.


Every candidate in all elections globally should take an IQ test and all those who fail can find productive work more suitable to their abilities.

Lying, cheating and stealing with a high IQ should warrant long terms of jail time with hard labor, LOL.

Sgt. Based

Oh no

Leftists have defeated leftists in one of the greatest leftist nanny states of the world


Are you North Korean?

Tom Bombastadillo

He seems to be an accurate realist. Oz is woke and broke.


Once the over 70 inevitably perish in Australia, Liberals will have even less support. I’ve spoken to a number of them, and they vote Liberal because “they always have and always will” They can’t even name one liberal policy.

Tom Bombastadillo

Nothing was mentioned about how the vax mandates in Oz affected the elections. This was a glaring omission on the part of the author.

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