Voter backlash

Saturday’s remarkable by-election result in the Sydney seat of Wentworth, which saw the heartland of Liberal territory fall to an independent after an almost 20% swing against a sitting government, will send shock waves through both major political parties.
There appears to be a real change developing in Australian politics as more voters take advantage of the power that democracy affords them every election day.
The major parties had better watch out – this could catch on!
More people are demanding truly representative politicians and are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with some of the cookie-cutter offerings dished up by the major parties.
To be fair, the Wentworth by-election was unusual in that the electorate was very angry at the dumping of their popular local MP and the nation’s Prime Minister.
But parallels exist with the seat of Mayo and the Victorian seat of Indi which have both elected independent female MPs after voters became disillusioned with long-term Liberal representation.
Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie has held his seat of Denison for more than 10 years while Queensland’s Bob Katter has represented his constituents as an independent since 2001, showing unaligned grassroots politicians can be very difficult to dislodge once they become established.
Kerryn Phelps could well add to that list, meaning Wentworth – a jewel in the Liberal crown – may be lost for some time for no other reason than internal politics.
Now high-profile marketing professional and social commentator Jane Caro has indicated her willingness to embrace the moment and challenge former PM Tony Abbott in the neighboring Sydney seat of Warringah at the next Federal election.
Like the people of Wentworth, the voters of Warringah prefer conservative politics but whether they feel empowered enough to tell Mr Abbott they want someone who represents their views in Canberra rather than someone who represents Canberra’s views in Warringah, is yet to be seen.
The precedent has been set in Mayo and Indi and the move has not been a step too far for many traditional conservative voters.
The writing is on the wall and the big players had better take note.
Politicians – particularly backbenchers – must better represent the views of their electorates otherwise voters will look elsewhere. How democratic!

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