This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning till the end of the election. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au
It's a First World problem, to be sure. A quick visit to the supermarket to buy bread and milk becomes a lengthy expedition trying to choose from the 146 options on offer. Rattled and exhausted, you arrive home and switch on the television, only to spend the rest of the evening scrolling through endless channels searching for something to watch.
Behavioral scientists call it the choice overload effect - a growing sense of anxiety that comes from having too many options. It has rarely been a problem in federal politics, of course, where our system has allowed the two major parties to dominate. But a new wave of independents standing in this year's election may well introduce the concept of analysis paralysis to many Australian voters - along with the prospect of a hung parliament.
Growing disenchantment with the major parties is nothing new. Factional brawling and a broad similarity in policies has seen memberships dwindling for decades and led to one in four voters casting a first-preference vote for a minor party or independent at the 2019 election.
That trend is expected to continue next month with the help of the son of Australia's first billionaire.
Simon Holmes a Court - his father, Robert, was a corporate raider who built a resources and media empire in the 1980s - is the convenor of Climate 200, an organisation that has raised millions of dollars to help fund independent candidates who share its concerns about climate change and greater political transparency.
Many are women targeting more than a dozen conservative-held seats. Typical of them is the once blue-ribbon seat of Wentworth in Sydney's eastern suburbs, where sitting MP Dave Sharma's precarious 1.3 per cent margin is under challenge from independent business woman Allegra Spender. Elsewhere Treasurer Josh Frydenberg faces a battle against neurologist Monique Ryan in the traditionally Liberal-held seat of Kooyong, while fellow Victorian Liberal MP Tim Wilson is battling against former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel.
Many of these independents are beneficiaries of a growing shift among conservative voters who now favour greater climate-friendly policies. But they also have counterparts in regional and rural areas of Australia who claim the Nationals no longer represent the bush and have sold out to big business and mining interests.
And there are signs the major parties are increasingly nervous about the independent threat, judging by the way they are attacking many independents for refusing to say which party they will support in the event of a hung parliament.
Their reluctance is understandable. There are many policies to be announced and in the coming days we'll take a further look at the rise of the independents and the crucial role they could play.
But it's worth remembering that when we had our last hung parliament in 2010 it took crossbenchers Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor 17 days before making up their minds to support Julia Gillard.
Now that's what you call suffering from a bad dose of choice overload.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Are you planning to vote for an independent this year? If so, why? Have you stopped being a member of a major party? And are climate concerns going to influence your vote? Send us your views: firstname.lastname@example.org
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Two further polls released yesterday both confirmed Labor with a significant lead over the coalition. NSW MP Catherine Cusack became the latest high-profile Liberal to label Scott Morrison a bully, claiming he had politicised relief funding for flood victims. Labor announced a plan to boost mobile and broadband coverage in regional and rural areas.
THEY SAID IT: "My choice early in life was between whether to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference." - Harry S. Truman.
YOU SAID IT: "I'd like to hear Mr Albanese unequivocally commit to establishing a federal ICAC, laying out a timeline and details of how it will be effective." - Boyd.
"How to improve politics? Fixed five-year terms for the lower house. A federal ICAC with teeth. Make party donations transparent in real time. More independents. Less spin. More work." - Claire.
"Albanese is either lying or blissfully incompetent. He is not going to find all the aged care nurses he claims he will. If they were available they would be working now." - Mike.
"The aged pension used to be a right earned by taxpayers. It was not considered a welfare payment. The new indue card will make life even harder especially in regional areas. It shows a deep disregard for aged pensioners." - Gail.
"The most important issue is the cost of housing. So many other problems stem from that. When two incomes are barely enough the working poor don't have the time or energy to keep up with all the other issues. We are trapped." - Sarah.
"Political funds should have real time donation declarations. It would stop a lot of the skulduggery." - Brenda.
"Pollies are well paid so let them fund their own campaigns." - Lee.
"The biggest rort is the money spent during the campaign! No money is available for the bushfire and flood victims but an extraordinary amount is spent so we will vote for them!" - Maria.
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