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Friday, July 1, 2022

Labor set to face ‘community crossbench’ in federal parliament

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.

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

Ms Keneally conceded defeat on Sunday evening and congratulated Ms Le.

“At the end of today, it seems that Labor will not claim victory in Fowler. I congratulate Dai Le and wish her well,” she wrote on Twitter.

The former NSW premier 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”.

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.

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 needed 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.

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.”

Independent Sophie Scamps knocked out Liberal Jason Falinski in the Sydney seat of Mackellar.

Asked if the government’s loss could be blamed on ex-prime minister Scott Morrison, Dr Scamps told Sky News formerly rusted-on Liberal voters had told her the party no longer reflected their values.

“Generally, the party has moved away from its roots,” she said.

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.