The ‘Teal’ Strategy

Election Day Kooyong

The astonishing success of the so-called ‘teal’ independents – in reality climate independents – has vindicated the ‘vote climate’ strategy, which I have been advocating for many years. The strategy involves running in ‘safe’ conservative seats and exploiting the ‘preferential’ voting system. To be successful the climate independent must draw a substantial number of votes from the incumbent conservative and reduce their primary vote to well below 50%. Ideally, they should come first or second in the primary vote, which will mean they have also taken a substantial number of primaries off the other parties, and they must then collect almost all of the second preferences of these parties to place them in an absolute two party majority.

My own efforts as a climate independent were puny, admittedly with the much smaller aim of publicising the issue (in which I was moderately successful) and in getting 4% of the vote to get my deposit returned and some funding (which I failed at each attempt). What stands out is that essentially I am a ‘loner’ – mostly I have pursued my economic and political life alone or with a small number of friends – and hardly likely to succeed in elections. A leader is someone who does things first, but also gathers supporters and followers.

The ‘teal’ successes were in urban inner city seats where tertiary educated voters were high, they had prominent, smart, women candidates and pushed policy over party loyalty, often supported by one of the many locally based ‘Voices’ groups. Generally, they had an army of volunteers and many received financial support from Climate 200. By contrast, both Gippsland electorates are large, stretching from the mountains to the sea, with voters correspondingly more dispersed. Only Monash has a ‘Voices’ group and had an independent candidate.

The campaign in Monash by Deb Leonard had some advantages and there was probably some spin-off from the publicity that the city ‘teal’ candidates were getting in the mainstream media. Besides the natural disadvantage of being a spread out electorate, other disadvantages included having a ‘young’ voices group and by comparison, a relatively small number of volunteers, and having the Greens preference against her. As far as I am aware, Deb received no funding from Climate 200. Even so, she managed to receive nearly 11% of the primary vote and came third followed closely by Greens Matt Morgan on just under 10%. The incumbent’s primary vote is now only 35% and the seat of Monash is now definitely marginal.