Australian politics have largely always been dominated by two major forces: the Labor Party and the Coalition, which is an alliance of the Liberal Party and the National Party of Australia.
But what – and who – are the teal independents?
Here’s everything we know:
What are the ‘teal independents’?
The teal independents are a loosely-tied group of independent candidates who share the roughly the same backers and roughly the same policy platform.
A political action group Climate 200, set up by clean energy investor and son of Australia’s first billionaire Simon Holmes à Court, funds the campaigns of candidates who align with the organisation’s values.
They are not a political party, but seem to converge on two specific policies: the call for a federal integrity commission and a greater emphasis on tackling climate change.
They are called the “teal” independents because many campaigned with materials that use the greenish-blue colour of teal.
Who are the teal candidates?
There’s no hard and fast rule that decides who is “teal” and who is an independent running with some other colour.
Climate 200 lists a number of independents on its website that it is backing to help win the 2022 Federal election.
The following seven candidates – all considered under the “teal umbrella” managed to gain seats on Saturday night:
Allegra Spender (Wentworth) WON
Dr Monique Ryan (Kooyong) WON
Zoe Daniel (Goldstein) WON
Kylea Jane Tink (North Sydney) WON
Sophie Scamps (Mackellar) WON
There were also some incumbent independents who managed to retain their seats:
Andrew Wilkie (Clark) RETAINED
Helen Haines (Indi) RETAINED
Zali Steggall (Warringah) RETAINED
Many independents ran on different colours such as orange, purple and dark green.
(To avoid confusion, the actual colours candidates use don’t mean anything other than a point of difference against the well known blue of the Liberal Party and red of the Australian Labor Party.)
Labelling the group as “teal independents” is a colloquial way of referring to the group as a whole without drilling into idiosyncratic differences.
So why are people talking about these independents?
People are talking about the teal independents because they more or less sunk the Coalition off their own bat.
Almost all of the seats they won were taken off incumbent Liberal candidates, almost all of whom were male.
In comparison, the teal candidates largely consisted of women successful in their own right who grew up in the electorates in which they ran in.
The success of the teal independents could mean the Labor Party is likely to prioritise policy that addresses climate change in a meaningful manner and fast-tracks the legislating of a federal integrity commission.
It sounds like they are operating like a political party?
Perhaps culturally, but technically (and legally) they’re not.
Each independent ran on their own name, and a vote for them was not a vote for any particular overriding party ethos or platform.
The independents were backed by donors such as Climate 200 to help them run campaigns with advertising and marketing materials equal to that of their major party competitors – because that takes a lot of cash.
Climate 200 says it was “leveling the playing field” by endorsing “underdog candidates” who agree with legislating a federal ICAC and doing more on climate change.
So a bunch of teal independents have won seats, what happens now?
Well, the ALP is still projected to win a majority government (that’s where they hold over 50 per cent of seats in the lower house).
The teal independents are unlikely to hold the balance of power (that’s where the major powers have to negotiate with independents to form government).
Even with that in mind, the rise of the “teal wave” has far-reaching consequences.
Not only have the teals displaced a number of senior Liberal members – including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg – they will have far more influence on Labor policy now that they have won.
So the teals are for climate change and a federal ICAC. How will they vote on other issues?
The independents have (true to their name) largely said that they will vote on other issues depending on their own personal opinions and the opinions of their electorates.
All teal independents have said while they appreciate the backing of donors such as Climate200, they will govern as “true” independents open to the evidence and arguments presented to parliament.
Some have described the teal independents as “Liberal lite” (meaning they have conservative views outside of climate change) but how they vote on social issues remains to be seen.
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