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Welcome to The New Teal

By Allan Richardson

The success of the Indie women at the last election, no matter what their political leaning, will give heart to many genuinely progressive apolitical women candidates. This will be an extraordinary time. Don’t be put off by the mountain of parliamentary procedures that would have to be rewritten if we got to the point of having no political parties as such, having anything like a majority. Pity I’ll miss the denouement, but I have a vivid imagination.

Welcome to The New Teal (apologies, FDR)

In a different political universe, the Greens, with 12.25% of the national vote would have about one eighth of the seats. They didn’t.

The New Teals’ 5.29% scored them 10 seats to the Greens’ 4. This is mathematically disproportionate, with less than a half of the Indies’ support generating them two and a half times the number of HoR seats!

But aye, there’s the rub! (Apologies to His Bardship). Most Indie contestants were campaigning on one, or perhaps a few specific issues that attracted sufficient support from their electorates, together with the last nine years of almost indescribable neglect of the succession of incompetent LNP governments, which provided such rich pickings!

So, we are at the crossroads. Do we support the concept of Independent candidates appealing to, and progressing their electorates’ needs? Is this dangerously close to democracy? Or do we continue with the existing model, where a major party struggles for the support of a third of the preferences, essentially disenfranchising twice as many when they fall over the line just because there were enough people who liked them better than the other mob?

Or do we decry and dismiss a parliament of Independents, because ‘It would be a shambles, unlike our two party duopoly’, or ‘Are Australians capable of developing an effective process of proper parliamentary procedures and Bill tabling using democratic voting processes?’

We invented the stump-jump plough, the rotary clothesline and WiFi, so I think we could give it a shot!

Such an Independent, partisan environment would be refreshing, with all representatives promoting the views of their communities. Different Indies would often vote on bills in similar ‘groups’, but uncommitted to that group on other issues. See how dangerously democratic this could become!

And if you’re asking how an Independent Member of Parliament could know what their constituents feel about a bill, let me introduce you to some advanced technology, called the internet, websites and mail. For anyone interested in participating in the right to have a say, it’s up to you. It’s dead easy to contact everyone during their election campaigns and it can often be free.

If you’re looking for reasons a parliament of Independents couldn’t work, vote LNP. Not that any parties would have a bar of it!

It just may become an existential necessity. As the American cops say; “BOLO.”


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  1. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. What is all the fuss??? In NSW Parliament during the early noughties there were seven (7) Independents working to improve the best interests of their electorates while the COALition did everything to replace them by any means possible.

    Even before that in the 1988 Barry Unsworth (LABOR) lost the ”unlosable election” to Nick ”Goulash” Greiner who in turn started the neo-liberal lies that the COALition was the best managers of the Australian economy. Funny how Greiner departed Parliament to take up over 40 company directorships …..

    The four Independents forced the NSW COALition misgovernment to pass the NSW ICAC legislation that saw Greiner convicted then win his appeal.

    The major difficulty of having Community Independents is that Murdoch scribblers will again be exposed as unapologetic, biased non-objective yellow reporters rather than ”writers of record”.

    In elections, the people are always correct. The COALition was incompetent and corrupt and had to go …..

  2. L. S. Roberts

    The Teal Ladies will sit around for three years and unless they are visibly active will slip back to the leafy suburbs and harbour side mansions. More important discussion is the mechanism of the parliament.

    When Covid hit Morrison could rule without democratic process because the parliament was unable to meet. This is the bit that has to be fixed.

  3. margcal

    I do wonder how many commentators about the “teals” were involved in a campaign for one of them. The majority of newly elected independents prioritised (rather than having fully fleshed out policies) climate change, an ICAC of some effective sort, and women’s rights and issues. None of these is electorate specific. They are all national concerns. Those supporting “teals” are mostly clued up enough to know the difference between local and national and where various concerns need to be addressed.

    But over and above policies, “look at who the independents are“. People voted for values and integrity, for candidates who put national interest ahead of self-interest. In Kooyong, I wore teal because I wanted someone to represent my views in the national parliament. I was not the slightest bit interested, in fact I was actively against, having a member who was working to fulfil his personal ambition, since he was 15 or thereabouts, to be Australia’s prime minister.

    Beyond the policies, we want politicians who do politics better. We want civility and proper debate in parliament. We are sick of seeing people behaving in a way that would get them sacked in any other job. Hopefully, there are enough independents to make a difference on that score. Turfing out the LNP government has been a good start.

    That the Greens are under-represented as a % of their total vote is a different problem that has been around since before the “teals” appeared on the scene. And yes, it should be addressed, if someone can work out how.

  4. margcal

    L.S Roberts, the “Teal Ladies”, as you condescendingly call them, are highly qualified women who have runs on the board in their previous occupations. Not a furniture salesperson amongst them, or failed marketing “guru” either.

    They had to work bloody hard to get over the line in the election. They didn’t give up their careers and do that so they could relax back and warm a seat in parliament for three years.

  5. B Sullivan


    “That the Greens are under-represented as a % of their total vote is a different problem that has been around since before the “teals” appeared on the scene. And yes, it should be addressed, if someone can work out how.”

    The problem has been around for decades but has been deliberately ignored. It exists, it is obvious to anyone who can count, but is never discussed in the media. The solution, which has already been around even longer, is proportional representation as in the Senate, only on a whole Nation rather than a separate State basis. Everyone gets to vote equally for the representation of their choice. They are not restricted to a few candidates in their local district. Democracy should be determined by a majority of voters not a majority of electorates. Geography should not be permitted to bias the democratic process.

    Electorate specific representation is not democratic. It denies electorate specific minorities their fair share of representation in parliament. It invites pork-barreling, gerrymandering and other forms of electorate specific corruption. It is easier to manipulate an electorate to support bad government policy than it is to manipulate the general population.

    Proportional representation allows practically everybody to receive a fair equal share of representation in the parliament, which more accurately reflects the democratic will of the people.

    Election night results might take a little longer, the ballot paper may be a bit larger but compulsory preferential voting could be scrapped as it is not only unnecessary but also unjust if a voter is not given the option to tick a box which states “No other preference”.

    So the problem can be solved quite simply, if as margcal points out, someone can work out how to have the problem, which is in fact a major injustice, addressed and recognised and discussed by the media and general population in the first place. At present it is not on anyone’s agenda, except perhaps the Greens. Maybe they can raise it in the new parliament.

    However, just like with action to deal with climate change, there will be excessive opposition from the currently ruling minorities in their corridors of power who are extremely tolerant of major injustices that benefit their minority interests.

  6. Graeme

    This article and the comments below show an extreme lack of knowledge about the British legislation called the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia.
    It’s a good reason to not have any more referendums until voters learn how the system works.
    Perhaps we should inquire about the Executive Council, and the need for Ministers of the Crown, see section 61 to 64,

  7. David Baird

    Proportional representation. It’s time.

  8. GL

    The right wing seems to have an innate fear and loathing of independents being in parliament. The most galling part to them (and L. S. Roberts it appears) as well is the fact that they are women. The horror, the horror, all those poor little princes who thought they would be in their seats forever being kicked out because voters had had a gutful of them. I have some spare peeled onions if anyone wants to shed some fake tears.

  9. Allan Richardson

    GL, this could be the turning point. I think the momentum is there to continue the progression of incipient democracy lol

  10. Fred

    BS and DB: We have a form of “Proportional Representation” in the Senate, with voting above the line – apart from the glaring inequality of the big state / little state per capita representation. Both NSW with 8.1M and Tas with 0.54M people have 12 senators – not a very fair 16:1 ratio!

    The big challenge of PR, is making the system truly “proportional”. Current proportionality relies on candidates being in “parties”, but that is not without problems: a 70/20/10% 3 party vote split would not see 8.4/2.4/1.2 representatives sitting of a 12 person state quota, rather 9/2/1, which skews the result to 75/16.7/8.3%.

    If we have electorates comprising of roughly equal numbers of voters, isn’t that proportional?

  11. wam

    Good one margcal and b Sullivan,
    The loonies are well over represented in parliament by any rules of arithmetic that include an understanding of the electoral system.
    Read Fred’s post and think?

  12. A Commentator

    I’d be quite happy if the Teals were an actual political party, with policies and leadership. But s it is, they’re a rabble without any coherence.
    As for PR, no.
    Single member electorates provide a greater level of accountability, and notionally allow localised issues to be considered

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