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Voters put the 'majors' on notice

By Graham Young - posted Tuesday, 7 June 2022

In this federal election, the Coalition and the freedom parties – Liberal Democrats, One Nation, and United Australia Party – appear to have failed against the 'free things' parties of Labor, the Teals, and Greens.

Look deeper. It is more complex than this.

The two majors are on notice, and the minors are on a rise (at various trajectories). While the ALP looks like getting to 77 seats, neither side really won the election. The ALP won less than a third of the vote – 32.8 per cent – while the Coalition won slightly more – 35.64 per cent – yet it is the coalition, with 58 seats, that is more battered.


This is because the Labor Party's two minor party allies, the Teals and the Greens, are more disciplined with their preferences than those of the Liberal Party, and they were capable of taking seats in their own right, unlike UAP, ON, and LDP. These minor parties also partly explain the low vote for the majors as they spent a lot of the election campaign running their own side down.

The Teals paint themselves as independents who want to fix the climate and reform political integrity, but when it comes to finance, they are every bit as much an example of money politics as Clive Palmer's United Australia Party – except with the chutzpah to deny it.

They have no real policy platform, or genuine democratic participation (even though they brand themselves as 'Voices of [insert your seat here]'). It is a type of politics less democratic than your local footy club, but comes with plenty of enthusiastic fans.

Teals are also significantly more successful than Palmer. While he apparently spent $100 million of his own money for no seats, Holmes à Court aimed to spend significantly less but won six seats.

Since the 70s, politics has become increasingly corporatised. Before then, parties were broad-based and member-based. Policy and tactics were largely determined by the amateurs who made up the membership. The candidates were often recruited from the broader community. Over time, this has changed. Now candidates and elected members are more likely to be full-time professionals in politics before being preselected, while policy and tactics are dictated by political mercenaries who specialise in running campaigns.

As a result, both the major parties have become divorced from their communities, the standard of candidate has deteriorated, and strategies and policies have tended to converge. This also partly explains their record low result at this election.


The Teals take that trend to a whole new level, but in a way that differentiates their product and allows them to steal market share by appearing fresher and more aligned with their 'community'.

Judging from the Warringah template of 2019, they first perform detailed psycho-demographic profiles of all the seats, identify where there is a mismatch between the seat and the current incumbent coupled with a receptiveness to the ideas they want to put forward. They prioritise their potential markets against likely resources and select a number. Then, they determine a strategy. Only at this stage do they go looking for a product, sorry candidate, to sell.

Every campaign is run like a start-up business. Identify and analyse the market, conceptualise the product, find distributors, and then, and only then, manufacture it and sell it.

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This article was first published in The Spectator.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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