Australia elects a record number of pro-climate independents

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Dr Monique Ryan one of the newly elected pro-climate change independents

Australia woke up to a new Prime Minster on Sunday after the federal election.

Labor’s Anthony Albanese has become the 31st Prime Minster of Australia. However the big winners out of this election are a large number of pro-climate independent candidates dubbed “Teal independents” and The Greens who both won a record number of seats.

Before yesterday’s election there were just five independents and one Green politician in Australia’s House of Representatives, however there are now likely to be four Green and twelve independents MPs.

Most of the independents campaigned on several agendas: proaction on climate change, setting up an anti-corruption commission and gender equality were common campaign points.

In another positive, female representation is stronger than ever, with the majority of the new independents being women.

How Australia’s government system works

In Australia there are two levels of government: The House of Representatives (lower house) and the Senate (upper house). The government is formed by the party who has the most seats in the lower house. Counting is set to continue over the coming weeks, and it is still unclear if Labor have won enough seats in the lower house to form government on their own or if they will need the support of The Greens and Independents.

However one thing that is clear is that no party will have a majority of seats in the upper house. The new government will need the support of The Greens or the opposition to pass laws through the upper house. This indicates that there will be negotiation on policies and a desire to increase climate change targets.

Pro-climate independents set the tone of the next government

The Labor party went to the election with a target to reduce carbon emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030, and be at net zero emissions by 2050. However many experts believe this timeline would cause irreversible damage.

The Greens and eleven of the new independents are calling for Australia to have Net Zero emissions by 2035. Additionally The Greens want Australia to end all coal exports by 2030.

In this election Australia has moved further away from a two party system. Although Labor won the election, the party received just above 32% of the vote. This is the lowest any party has ever won an election with in Australia.

This marks a dramatic shift in Australian politics. Labor have formed government from preference votes from smaller parties and independents.

There will be pressure on the new Labor government to increase their climate targets, especially if they need support from the cross bench to pass legalisation, which is looking likely.

Newly elected teal independant Allegra Spender
Newly elected pro-climate independent Allegra Spender. Source: https://www.facebook.com/allegraforwentworth

One of the newly elected independents is New South Wales’ Allegra Spender who won previous Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth. In her victory speech she said:

“It’s a victory for the community movement around the country. We stand for the future, not for the past. You’ve given up shouting at the television, the negativity and the spin. You’ve all invested in the democracy of the country.”

Another high profile win is that of Dr Monique Ryan, a paediatric neurologist. Dr Ryan won the seat from Josh Frydenberg, who was Australia’s treasurer and touted as a possible future leader of the Liberal Party.

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