Australian federal politics is largely dominated by two major political forces: the Coalition (an alliance of the Liberal Party and the National Party of Australia) and the Labor Party.
There are other parties such as the United Australia Party, the Greens and independents. However, in this Federal Election people are seeing ‘teal independent’ emerging as a new force.
Is “teal independents” a political party?
This is a loosely-tied group of 22 – 19 female and 3 male candidates – with past connections to either corporate or political establishment who are fighting against mostly male Liberal MPs in Australia’s affluent electorates. The following candidates are running with teal-coloured campaigns:
- Alex Dyson (Wannon)
- Allegra Spender (Wentworth)
- Dr Monique Ryan (Kooyong)
- Kate Chaney (Curtin)
- Zali Steggal (Warringah)
Not all “teal independent” candidates use the colour teal (greenish-blue colour). Some are running on different colours such as pink, orange, purple and dark green too!
The choice of colour is to differentiate against the blue of the Liberal Party, red of the Australian Labor Party and green of the Greens Party.
There are also some other independents running for Senate seats, including Kim Rubenstein and David Pocock in the ACT, and Leanne Minshull in Tasmania, who are backed by Climate 200.
What are the “teal candidates” fighting for?
Although, the “teal candidates” have been selected using variety of nomination process, have different organisational structures and also diverse funding rules, it appears that they have two key policy issues in common: a greater emphasis on tackling climate change and the call for a federal integrity commission.
Their key funder Simon Holmes à Court of Climate 200 told the National Press Club last month:
“In no way are we a party. We don’t start campaigns, we don’t select candidates … We don’t have a policy platform. We have values, and we will only fund those who also have those values, but we don’t specify in any degree of specificity how those are to be achieved.”
Holmes à Court was before 2019 a close associate and financial donor of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
Further, according to a report titled “Come clean on interests, Climate 200 chief told,” published in the Australian on April 27, it was revealed that Holmes à Court “has a big portfolio of family and other businesses focused on making money out of a potential boom in clean-energy technology.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is also investigating a series of doctored posters that incorrectly showed the names and faces of “teal independent” candidates Zali Steggall, Sophie Scamps, Penny Ackery and Georgia Steele with the Greens logo.
Liberal politicians such as David Davis MLC, Member for Southern Metropolitan Region and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, has also hinted that the “teal independents” are essentially Labor supporters.
There are 151 seats in the house of representatives and to form a stable government one of the major political parties must secure 76 of those seats. If a significant number of “teal independents” win seats then the chance of a minority government or a hung parliament increases. In such a case scenario, “teal independents” will be able to form an alliance with one of the major parties and thus become part of the government.
Come Saturday, 21 May, and we will know if the “teal candidates” will be able to capitalise on climate change and hostility to both the Labor and Liberals in their affluent electorates.