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The new teal independents: 'What the media got wrong about us'

The so-called "teal independents" are not a quasi-party that has deceptively slipped into federal parliament as many have accused them of, according to three of the new independent members of parliament.

Zoe Daniel, Kylea Tink and Allegra Spender all unseated sitting Liberal members in the seats of Goldstein, North Sydney and Wentworth respectively, adding to the now 10 independent members who will sit on the cross-bench.

Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce didn't hold back in his views on the independent MPs, slamming them as "selfish" and "self-indulgent" for seeking to disrupt the two-party system.

Independent candidate for Goldstein Zoe Daniel (centre) with a female and male supporter, all wearing teal campaign merchandise
Incoming Member for Goldstein Zoe Daniel says the media has missed the story on the movement behind the "teal independents". Source: Getty Images

Yahoo News Australia spoke to Ms Daniel, Ms Tink and Ms Spender about the accusations that the independents were a proxy party under the guidance of the Simon Holmes à Court-led Climate 200, with all condemning the label.

Community driven campaign

"I think it was a convenient line of attack for the major parties, particularly the Liberal-National party, used to try and cast aspersions on us during the campaigning period," Ms Tink, whose campaign colour was actually pink, said.

"It's really important that the misinformation be put to rest because the reality is I'm 100 per cent the independent for North Sydney. I was found by the community, the campaign was driven by the community.

North Sydney Independent Kylea Tink celebrates her election victory with a crowd of supporters in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
North Sydney Independent Kylea Tink and other independents have been accused of being a quasi-party. Source: Getty Images

"As to the other reference that I am one of the Climate 200 candidates, that is completely inappropriate and quite insulting to the people that donated to support this campaign. There were literally over 1,000 people that donated to this campaign and the most common gift was $100. Even if you look at the entity that is Climate 200 it was made up of 12,000 people who donated."

Collaboration will happen: Zoe Daniel

Ms Daniel was equally as adamant, saying that the residents of Goldstein are the ones behind her win. She did however concede that she would consult with other independents on issues such as climate policy.

"There's been some intermittent conversations with the other independents, largely on how they are going, not on policy at all. I can only speak for myself, I stood to represent my community. I have been elected by my community and I will take my community's views forward to the parliament," Ms Daniel said.

"Will that involve conversations with other independents? Yes. That's how legislation needs to be built and that's how government should be done. Through collaboration, conversation and problem-solving to create progress. That's why people have turned to independents; because the two major parties are so polarised that they can't actually talk to each other."

Allegra Spender, independent member for Wentworth, waves to voters at a polling booth
Newly elected member for Wentworth Allegra Spender says the independents are a community-driven movement in each electorate. Source: Getty Images

Volunteers deserve credit for campaign: Allegra Spender

Ms Spender also attributed her result to a 1,200-strong volunteer campaign team, not the Climate 200 team.

"I have stood and been elected as an independent and if you speak to the 1,200 volunteers on my campaign you will understand that this is a real community-led movement," Ms Spender said.

"I have always retained that freedom and stand on my policies that I have determined in consultation with the community on what is best for the country and what is best for Wentworth."

Media has 'missed the story'

Ms Daniel, Ms Tink and Ms Spender have all previously confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that Climate 200 was one of a number of donors to their respective campaigns.

All three have climate change as one of their top priorities, sharing a similar carbon emissions target of between 50 and 60 per cent by 2030.

As for the "teal" label, Ms Daniel had an interesting explanation on the origins of the colour that many independents used during their campaign.

"My team and I had a three-week discussion on what colour to have because a lot of colours were taken," she said.

"Teal is my favourite colour, so that's how we landed on teal. It came to my attention afterwards that others used a similar colour during their campaign, as did Zali Steggall.

"The media has missed the story on this through the entire election, that these independent movements grew from community organisations. They didn't come from Climate 200. If they came from any organisational structure they came from Kathy McGowan's Voices Of.

"It's not about a proxy party trying to get in under the radar, it's about community."

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