The Legislative Assembly is ripe for disruption.
The corridors of the London Circuit building hum with chatter about what independent candidates would, might and could do at next October's election. It has been the most popular topic for hypothesis and speculation.
Could a David Pocock-style candidate rewrite the rules of the 25-member parliament, where Labor has been in power for a political eternity and the Liberals are struggling for unity and cut through?
For Labor, the "It's time" factor catches up eventually; a slow process of internal renewal can only do so much.
The Greens have struggled this term with growing pains, shooting up to a party room of six and navigating the rocky terrain of compromise and conciliation that comes with coalition government. It doesn't come so easily to a party whose bedrock is a history of protest.
Then the Canberra Liberals, whose moderate leader must preside in opposition over a party that is far from united and is riven by members who are resigned to an unelectable fate. And in that resignation, make that fate a reality.
Could a strong independent candidate sweep to power in this political climate, clinging to some mood for change on a platform that promises a view divorced from party stricture?
Just four independent members have sat in the Legislative Assembly since the ACT was granted self government in 1989. Many other independent candidates have attempted to win a seat. Some have come close, many have failed spectacularly.
Senator Pocock's success at the 2022 election, taking a Senate seat for the ACT and ending a Labor-Liberal stranglehold, has provoked a lot of consideration about the possibility of independents running for the Assembly.
Climate 200, the group which backed independent candidates across Australia and Senator Pocock, commissioned robocall polling of about 1000 voters in the ACT. The group was taking the temperature of running independents at next year's election.
The same strategy won't fly in an ACT election. Candidates will be limited to spending $50,135 on their campaigns between January 1, 2024 the end of the year. That means a party fielding 25 candidates could spend a total of $1.25 million, still less than the Pocock campaign spent.
That kind of money can buy plenty of name recognition, and position a candidate as a proper threat. The ACT's electoral laws prevent this.
If established name recognition is key, it explains why the former Brumbies and Wallabies player Ben Alexander has been mentioned in the building as a possible candidate. (Alexander - whose profile is boosted further by being owner of a popular Kingston pub - laughs off the suggestion he'd run, telling The Canberra Times "there's enough washed-up footballers in politics without me".)
The ACT's political landscape is marked with different terrain to the last federal election. Deep frustration at a conservative government and its inaction on climate change, coupled with politically toxic personas, proved a rich seam for so-called teal independents to mine.
Canberra has a progressive government and not the same level of anger directed at any particular politician. Senator Pocock capitalised on real frustration and anger directed at Mr Seselja. Who would provide the foil for a Pocock-style independent in the ACT election?
In the seat of Kurrajong at the 2020 election, two independent candidates took just 914 first preference votes between them. Chief Minister Andrew Barr received 11,148, or 22 per cent of the vote, and more than a quota. Former MLA Helen Cross, elected as a Liberal in 2001 before later crossing the floor, received just 199 votes in Yerrabi in 2020.
The best performing independent in 2020 was Fiona Carrick, the well-known Woden Valley Community Council president. Ms Carrick received more first preference votes in Murrumbidgee than the Greens' Emma Davidson and the Liberals' Giulia Jones, who were both elected.
Party candidates are aided in the Hare-Clark system by preferences from their running mates who generally direct preferences between each other.
Ms Carrick's campaign spent $13,693. Her result after a small campaign spend shows the power - and importance - of name recognition in the seat. A strong candidate for the 2024 election would not need to be known widely across all of Canberra. If their deep engagement in a handful of suburbs can garner about 10,000 votes, they'd likely find a seat in the chamber. A challenge, but not impossible.
Independents also benefit from a bandwagon effect, where positive media coverage contributes to a sense they could win, which in turn attracts more supporters. And the cycle goes on.
Jill Sheppard, a lecturer at the Australian National University's school of politics and international relations, said she was deeply convinced that once polling showed the teal candidates were viable in parts of Melbourne and Sydney, the tide shifted in media coverage and the candidates went from being perceived as outside shots to viable alternatives to Liberal candidates.
There were inevitably "crank candidates" who stand at elections who do not deserve the same media attention as someone who stands a genuine chance, but it was important to understand how the decisions were made, she said.
"I think there's a really under investigated and not well-understood role for the media to play here in terms of who they identify as potentially being viable," Dr Sheppard said.
"Sometimes polling does that job for them. But sometimes I think there are unconscious decisions that journalists make that decide that one candidate is viable over another. And in the ACT, that probably happens much more than we realise because we don't have seat-by-seat polling.
"Every time journalists make the decision to cover one candidate over another, they are lending credibility and in turn signalling to voters than one candidate is more viable than another."
So for an independent to be successful in the ACT, they would need to have broad appeal, existing name recognition (being an ex-footballer is a good start, history has shown) and attract the attention of journalists for being someone whose campaign should be taken seriously.
Would any candidate who meets those requirements now like to make themselves known to the voters of the ACT?