Swept into parliament on a wave of voter enthusiasm, the teals have had to reckon with Labor’s majority. What have they achieved so far?
They were swept in on a fairy tale. Triumphant, cashed-up community campaigns sent six impressive women to Canberra on platforms of action on climate, integrity and gender equity, stripping the Liberals’ ranks of some of their best talent and plunging the party into an identity crisis.
Spender argues it is the opposition that has dealt itself out of key debates, pointing to the Coalition’s opening gambit of opposing the climate target legislation and the Liberals’ decision to boycott the government’s jobs and skills summit.
“I genuinely feel I’ve had much more impact as an independent than any member of the opposition. On so many major issues, they’re just not in the debate, and they’re not making the legislation better,” she says.
As an example, she points to Labor’s contentious IR reforms which she, like the Coalition, voted to reject. But in her negotiations with the government, she and other crossbenchers advocated for changes to the proposed union right of veto over multi-employer pay deals and a statutory review of the new laws, measures which Pocock ultimately secured in the Senate.