TEAL TEAL TEAL—lining up the political ducks

Independents win multiple seats in the Australian 2022 election

The 2022 Australian election is over probably much to everyone’s relief. The undeniable word of the election though, has to be TEAL (but do you know what it really means?).

The self-identified Teal candidates have taken multiple “blue-ribbon” seats off the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party’s blue-ribbon seats were their safest seats. Kooyong, the posh suburb in Melbourne, was the seat that Sir Robert Menzies, the grand old man of the party held, and was lost this election by Josh Frydenberg, the Liberal Party’s heir apparent. Wentworth similarly was the seat that ex-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull held in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

The candidates’ success has been attributed to:

  1. a focus on inner-urban, prosperous seats with high numbers of educated, professional voters who want climate action.
  2. months of grassroots organisation, which had selected credible, professional candidates and provided a small army of committed volunteers.
  3. almost all the candidates being women, who channelled anger at the perception that the Liberal government had ignored or belittled them.

So why are the candidates called teals?

Many of the candidates had adopted teal as their campaign colour. This was in contrast to the blue of the Liberal Party, the red of Labor and the green of the Greens. Teal is a tint variation of blue and green, similar to turquoise and cyan, although darker than both. The combination is symbolic of the merging of the blue liberal views with the green of climate action.

The word “teal” as a colour has only a relatively recent usage—first seen to be used from 1923 in clothing advertisements. For the graphic designers amongst you the definition of the colour using different standards are approximately:

  • PMS: 3557 C
  • HEX COLOR: #007C80;
  • RGB: (0,124,128)
  • CMYK: (100,0,42,25)

What does teal really mean?

However, I was a little surprised to find that many people were not aware of the origin of the word:

Teal (n.) “small freshwater duck,” early 14c., of uncertain origin, probably from an unrecorded Old English word cognate with Middle Dutch teling “teal,” Middle Low German “telink”, from West Germanic “taili”.

We have teals in Australia but the colour connection comes from the Eurasian teal (Anas crecca). Known in Europe as the common, or Eurasian green-winged teal, it is often called simply the teal due to being common and widespread. The bird has a blue-green stripe on its head which has come to characterise the colour.

We now have the question that with all the little teal ducks lined up are we going to get the climate change action that was the catalyst for their success? I certainly hope so.

POSTSCRIPT: ducks have been scientifically proven to be the funniest of all animals.