Returning to Josh Frydenberg’s Sydney press conference, and the treasurer was asked about members of his party being challenged by high-profile independents backed by the Climate 200 funding group.
As regular readers of this blog will know, Liberal MPs like Dave Sharma and Tim Wilson are being challenged by so-called “teal” independents running on a platform of greater action on climate change.
Frydenberg himself is being challenged by an independent candidate at the May 21 election (Dr Monique Ryan, the director of neurology at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital).
During his press conference, the treasurer accused the teals of operating like a political party in all but name.
“The strings are being pulled elsewhere,” he said in reference to the funding provided by Climate 200.
“[They’re] treating the community as mugs. The reality is, these fake independents aren’t telling their communities how they would vote in the event of a hung parliament. And a hung parliament is a real possibility.
“We’ve seen this movie before. It was chaotic. Imagine negotiating … with every crossbencher [on every single piece of tax reform]. It would be chaotic. These are the decisions the Australian people need to take into account on May 21.”
Independents backed by Climate 200, such as Kylea Tink, say in the event of a hung parliament they will meet with the leaders of both major parties in the event of a hung parliament and determine which side is more prepared to tackle climate change faster and take greater action on integrity in politics.
In the case of Tink, she has acknowledged that her electorate leans economically conservative and therefore the majority of her supporters would lean towards the Coalition. Others, like sitting Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie, say their communities lean more towards Labor.
During today’s press conference, Frydenberg accused the climate independents of “running on a Labor platform”, referring specifically to his challenger for the seat of Kooyong (who was briefly a member of the Labor Party despite initially telling journalists she was a “political cleanskin”).
While Ryan was at one time a member of the Labor Party, that is no longer the case. In relation to the Melbourne seat of Goldstein, independent candidate Zoe Daniel has never been a member of any party and was formally an ABC correspondent (and says she is a swinging voter). In Wentworth, independent candidate Allegra Spender is the daughter of former federal Liberal MP John Spender.