The 5 pro-tourism independents to watch this federal election

Our snapshot of five possible cross benchers' views on the visitor economy 

From the Message Shapers Australian Federal Election 2016 blog series. 

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With up to seven Senate spots likely to go to non-major parties and a handful of lower house seats also in play, it's game on for independents this federal election. Message Shapers has used its Stakeholder Matrix to analyse the renegades the tourism industry should leverage.  

The 2013 Australian federal election was remembered for the rise of the minority parties. One in five votes cast was for a party other than Labor or the Coalition. 

The changes to the Senate voting rules that come into force a day before the election should make it harder for micro-parties to get a candidate up with the help of lengthy preference flows. 

But conversely, the dissolution of both houses of the Australian Parliament has halved the quota required to get a Senate seat. 

Finance minister Mathais Cormann has signalled a willingness intent to work with cross benchers in any future parliament if it is unable to secure an majority in both houses. 

It is game on for the independents. 

In this highly-leveraged political landscape, independents candidates and those on minority party tickets will be receptive to new policy ideas. Not all are populists, but few have time to delve deeply into any area of policy. 

We plotted the positions of key independents on tourism to produce our top five indies to watch.  

  1. Jacqui Lambie. Former Mavericks' back-up singer, Lambie is keen to take up a residence at the Parliament House stage. Senator Lambie has intervened in tourism policy for her state, notably the fraught politics of Bass Strait ferries. In a tourism-reliant state, Lambie will want to come up to speed quickly on policy ideas.

  2. Nick Xenophon. The legendary solo act is trying a new band for the upcoming tour. The X factor has never been significant in tourism policy beyond airline industrial relations. However, the youth unemployment issue facing South Australia have prompted Xenophon to come out in favour of exemptions in Sunday penalty rate levels for small businesses, a key ask of the hospitality industry. 

  3. Tony Windsor. The quiet one in The Three Amigos, Windsor is on a comeback tour. Challenging Johnny Depp's nemesis Barnaby Joyce for the seat of New England, Windsor should be remembered by the tourism industry for steering the Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund that enabled the crossbenchers to block the automatic indexation of the passenger movement charge in 2012
  4. Adam Bandt. As lower house warm-up act for The Green Senators, Bandt has steered clear of tourism policy.  Although unlikely to hold the balance of power in the next parliament, the Australian Greens are the first political party to pledge a significant boost in Tourism Australia marketing funding. The Greens's notoriously quixotic tourism policy should be steered by an inner-city MP like Bandt.
  5. David Leyonhjelm. As Ronald Reagan tribute bands go, the Liberal Democratic Party isn't bad. Senator Leyonhjelm plays crowd pleasers from the libertarian playbook that includes the anti-tax refrain "Don't Tax Travel". Unfortunately, a cut to tourism promotion also figures in his fantasy budget. 

Betting on the composition of the next parliament is risky. But the odds on independents and minor parties controlling at least the Senate are narrowing. 

Shovel-ready policy positions need to be on hand to fuel the furnace, should the mavericks and renegades get a seat in the cab.

Message Shapers can help you get your policy positions in order.