Zoe Daniel hails community focus as driving force behind independents’ huge gains

Tapping into community issues, Allegra Spender ousted Liberal Dave Sharma from Wentworth. <i> Photo: AAP</i>

Tapping into community issues, Allegra Spender ousted Liberal Dave Sharma from Wentworth. Photo: AAP

Australia has elected a “community crossbench” to the federal parliament with a focus on climate, integrity and equality, an incoming independent MP says.

The latest Australian Electoral Commission figures have independents leading in 10 of the 151 seats in the House of Representatives.

Labor is sitting on 75 seats – one short of a majority – according to the AEC website, which would require the support of crossbenchers to govern.

Former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel is set to hold the Victorian seat of Goldstein, having unseated Liberal frontbencher Tim Wilson at Saturday’s election.

Ms Daniel said former MP Cathy McGowan had sparked the movement which led to a wave of independents picking up seats.

She said one of the failings of the major parties, reflected in the low primary vote secured by Labor and the Liberals, was a capacity to communicate and collaborate.

“There will be conversations with my incoming fellow independents, but what Australia has elected on the crossbench this time around is a community crossbench, a group of people who seek to genuinely engage with and represent their communities,” she told the ABC.

Frydenberg’s hopes rest on postal votes

Monique Ryan is likely to seize the seat of Kooyong from outgoing Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, but he has yet to concede with thousands of postal votes still to be counted.

Dr Ryan said she would only guarantee confidence and supply to the incoming Labor government if she was offered security on action on climate change and an integrity commission within a set period of time.

She described the swing to her in Kooyong as a victory for a community unhappy at, and disaffected with, the outgoing coalition government.

This included its perceived lack of action on climate change, gender equity and integrity and transparency in government.

“This is a government that has moved too far to the right,” Dr Ryan told Sky News.

“It has been dragged to the right by the Nationals, it has gone in that direction and it is no longer representing the small ‘l’ Liberal heartland.”

Mr Frydenberg said the Coalition needs to communicate its climate policy better, but noted the country had not been well served by people seeing the issue through the prism of “belief or non-belief” in climate change.

“It is not a religion – it needs to be seen through the prism of engineering, economics and environmental science,” he told ABC radio.

In NSW, independent Dai Le has swept aside Labor’s home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally in the western Sydney seat of Fowler.

Asking on Sunday if she was leaning toward supporting Labor or the Liberals in the lower house, Ms Le pointed out both major parties had attacked her during the election campaign.

Keneally’s failed parachute

“My allegiance is to my community and nobody else,” she told Sky News.

Ms Keneally was parachuted into the once safe Labor lower house seat after failing to secure a winnable spot on NSW Labor’s Senate ticket.

Ms Le attributed her stunning victory to her strong roots in the community, saying Labor voters had told her they “couldn’t accept someone being parachuted in from the northern beaches”.

Independent Allegra Spender, who has taken the Sydney seat of Wentworth from the Liberals’ Dave Sharma, said she would be a voice for the environment and business in parliament.

“This is about bringing the country together, with business, with community, with the environment and moving forward together,” she said.

“The country wants to have a political class that is accountable.”

The so-called teal independents who ran in this year’s election were mostly women.

“It shows that you can’t ignore women anymore,” Ms Spender said.


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