SYDNEY – At Australia’s federal election in May, a new political force emerged as a wave of independent candidates defeated key MPs from the ruling Liberal-National Coalition and helped to topple former prime minister Scott Morrison.
These independents – all high-profile women – ran popular campaigns that called for stronger action on climate change and gender equality, as well as greater curbs on corruption. Six independent MPs defeated Liberal members in the 151-member House of Representatives, joining four like-minded independents who had won at previous elections.
And it appears that the ascendancy of this group is not just a passing fad. At upcoming elections in Australia’s two most populous states, Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), a new crop of candidates aligned with the group is set to further disrupt the dominance of politics by the Coalition and Labor.
Though this broad grouping of like-minded politicians is not officially a party, they have become known as the “teals”. They are christened after the blue-green colour that reflects their support for elements of the conservative blue-coloured Liberal party’s agenda, particularly on economics, while wanting stronger measures to tackle climate change.
Australia’s recent series of bushfires, droughts and floods have added to growing concerns about climate change, while opinion polls have found th...