JUST OVER A year ago, on 21 May, 2023, Australia experienced a seismic shift in its political landscape with a federal election that saw six community independents, six women, elected to parliament by defeating sitting Liberal Party members in affluent, blue ribbon seats in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Late in the campaign, the media, catching up on what the polls were saying about those seats, by way of a shorthand tag, started calling them “teals” because some of their campaigns, not all, featured turquoise, not teal, livery. That “teals” label has stuck.
One of those six was Dr Sophie Scamps, who spoke to us in the #transitzone, way back in October 2021, BEFORE she became a candidate. Sophie became the independent MP for Mackellar north of and adjacent to Warringah where Zali Steggall had defeated former prime minister, Tony Abbott, in the previous federal election. Steggall was re-elected in 2022.
One of the key policy planks of the community independents, along with climate change and the nature of representative democracy itself, was integrity, and the creation of a federal ICAC. The newly formed National Anti Corruption Commission has just opened for business. The independents were active and prominent in its design. But their influence has been clear in other policy areas too. They have not been sidelined in the political debates and the processes of forging legislation, although climate change and the grip of the fossil fuels industries on the Labor government remain very contentious.
So what has it been like entering the crucible of Canberra politics as a community independent with very limited support staff and no political party backing? Sophie Scamps spoke to Margo Kingston, Tim Dunlop and Peter Clarke about her first year as a federal parliamentarian how she sees the evolving role of a community independent in our system and her hopes and expectations for the future with more community independents in the Australian democracy.
DR SOPHIE SCAMPS: https://www.sophiescamps.com.au
TIM DUNLOP’S SUBSTACK SITE, The Future of Everything : https://tdunlop.substack.com/
TIM DUNLOP’S LATEST BOOK, Voices of us: The independents’ movement transforming Australian democracy: https://www.newsouthbooks.com.au/books/voices-of-us-178349/
#transitzone Episode October 2021, Mackellar Rising with Dr Sophie Scamps: https://rss.com/podcasts/transitzone/600573/