Australian Election: The Teals

Australian Election: The Teals. By Janet Albrechtsen.

There is a British spoof show that features a chap called Marcus, who runs a shop in Notting Hill called I Saw You Coming. Marcus has a sly, sanctimonious look about him as he sells what he calls a “bunch of crap” to women he calls “posh thickos”. His customers are often blonde, never very bright and invariably rich, with husbands who work in the City. They are happy to browse for overpriced old sofas and lamps that Marcus collects from boot sales and upscales with little more than a hefty price tag.

One woman spots some old gumboots. “Ah yes,” says Marcus, not hiding his contempt, “those are cheap gumboots that I painted flowers on so I could charge you 30 quid.” “For a pair?” asks the sweet hippie airhead. “Each,” he grunts, “or you can take three for a hundred.” “Oh, great,” she says, “I’ll take three.”

Getting around Wentworth, where women — and they are overwhelmingly women — in teal-coloured T-shirts are spruiking the policies of Allegra Spender, I can’t help thinking her backer, Simon Holmes a Court, bears a striking resemblance to the cynical Marcus.

When we talk about the teals, we should focus on Holmes a Court. He is the common thread holding them together, financially, politically and structurally. And, like Marcus, Holmes a Court sure saw his constituency coming: mostly women who have grown weary with the usual array of things on offer from the usual parties. They are excited to be part of something new — not quite Liberal, not quite Labor, not quite Green — something different.

It is possible that, like Marcus’s not very bright target demographic, the women who have become teal devotees in Liberal-held seats don’t realise they have become pawns to tear down a party that clearly Holmes a Court has turned his back on. …

Like Marcus, he has spotted a market that is too rich and too easily manipulated for its own good. He has found policies whose appeal to affluent searchers for virtue is matched only by their vapidity and lack of rational analysis. You can have urgent climate action without significant cost; an integrity commission without defining corruption; and gender pay equity without grappling with the reality of women’s preferences. …

His plan, by funding teal candidates to knock off Liberal moderates, can only be to dismantle the broad church of the Liberal Party by stealing its centre for himself. …

Consider the stupidity of affluent teal fans patting themselves on the back for not voting Labor. And hell, no, never, those capitalist-hating Greens. Yet as single-issue candidates with no economic policies or credentials, teals in parliament will hand the economic levers to Labor and the Greens. …

Yes, teal voters might get more climate action more quickly. And then they will have to reckon, for the first time in their affluent lives, with the high price of their indulgence on the poor. They will get an open-ended national integrity commission without clear definitional limits and replete with public show trials. What they will get on gender issues is anyone’s guess because the teals (and others) haven’t decided whether they want equality of outcome or equality of opportunity.

What an awesome take-down. Well done. Read it all.