The 2022 Australian Federal Election saw the success for the new, Anthony Albanese-led Labor Government, the rise of “teal independents”, and a backpedalling for the major parties in Queensland.
The Liberal National Party, amid nationwide losses, ceded two Queensland seats, while Labor’s nine-seat national gain was hampered in Queensland by Terri Butler’s loss in Griffith. The winner of these three Queensland seats; the Greens.
But Greens Councilor for the Gabba Ward, Johnathan Sri, didn’t see the “teal-wave” and “Greenslide” coinciding with a general disillusionment with the major parties. Sri, irritated by southern experts’ analysis of the Queensland election results, sees this explanation as naive.
‘Many of these explanations (particularly from major party supporters) are hilariously simplistic, maybe because some people are trying to convince themselves that there’s an easy, straightforward way to counteract what’s happened,’ Sri said in a statement after the election.
‘They sound more like wishful thinking than robust analysis.’
The seat of Brisbane – home to both QUT campuses – was one of the three Greens wins, taken from Liberal National member Trevor Evans by Stephen Bates. To Bates, his win was no accident.
‘The success of the Greens in Queensland is the product of a clear strategy and years of dedicated work by thousands of volunteers across the state,’ Bates said to Glass.
‘We’ve been able to build on victories at the local and state level, forming deep connections with communities, listening to their issues and proposing and delivering real solutions.’
‘The Australian people have been abandoned by the old parties, and they’re justifiably pissed off.’
‘People wanted change, they wanted a positive vision, and the Greens were able to provide that.’
After emigrating to Yeppoon as a child, the UK native moved to Brisbane about a decade ago.
‘I’ve been living and working here in Brisbane for a decade, which means I know how tough things are for young people,’ Bates said.
‘Wages are flat, rent is out of control and essential health services – like getting your teeth fixed – are out of reach for most.’
But Bates hastens to note that the Greens’ vote went up state-wide, not just in their new seats of Brisbane, Ryan, and Griffith. The party’s second Queensland senator, Penny Allman-Payne, will be based in Gladstone, central Queensland.
‘I’m hopeful that this election was the death knell for two-party politics in Australia,’ Bates said.
‘Obviously, the Teals are a very different political project to the Greens, but the fact that they were able to so successfully leverage discontent in the electorate to me signals that there has been a fundamental shift away from the status quo and the embracing of a new style of politics.’
While Labor has now formed a majority government in the House of Representatives, a record twelve Greens senators will ensure Labor must work with the Greens to pass legislation.
‘Labor and the Liberals’ vote went down, ours went up,’ Bates said.
‘We have a clear mandate.’
But experts don’t agree entirely with Mr Bates.
Dr Frank Mols is a senior lecturer of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland, who specialises in political psychology, studying voter attitudes.
Dr Mol’s field of interest also extends, tepidly, into partisanship. Originally from the Netherlands, Dr Mols became a member of the Australian Democrats last year and was involved in their small campaign in Queensland.
Seeing a combination of Green’s campaigning and political distrust, Dr Mols believes the reason for Green’s growth in Queensland is multi-faceted.
‘We always have to be careful with what parties and leaders tell you they’ve done and what they’ve actually done,’ Mols said.
‘As a researcher, you have to be mindful that self-reported answers to questions are not usually the best answers.’
‘The Greens are quite clever marketing people and are quite clever in the way of micro-targeting and using data. Compare that to ten years ago when [the Greens] was just an idea, and people campaigned to the best of their ability.’
‘We’ve never seen anything like that before from the Greens, and it’s a combination of sustained community involvement … but also learning how to campaign in a data-driven way.’
‘The Greens have quite a machine, I think … and it’s starting to pay off.’
Dr Mols says it is unpopular governments who lose elections more than popular oppositions who win them.
‘There was a fatigue with the Morrison government and the Labor governments in different states,’ Dr Mols said.
‘The Greens’ wins in Queensland have a teal wind in their sails.’
To Mols, left and right, and poor and wealthy, aren’t helpful groupings for voting blocs.
‘Populist voters are a motley crew and certainly not less well-off than mainstream voters. A centrist, that is a category that is not committed, is actually far more mobilisable in all sorts of ways than we expected.’
‘Stereotypes are pedalled around all the time that the losers of globalisation are Trump voters, and poor people are Trump voters, and so on.’
‘These are reductionist explanations that locate social phenomena in different people in the electorate. But explaining people’s partisanship doesn’t always work exactly like that.’