Independent candidates Dr Monique Ryan and Allegra Spender (Images: AAP)

The release of the first tranche of data from the 2021 census yesterday came at a particularly opportune time for political observers, opening a new window on a federal election result that defied long-established maxims of electoral politics.

Foremost among these was the presumption that the Liberals could take most seats at the top end of the income scale for granted, a notion that had come to look increasingly shaky as gentrifying inner-city seats continued to vote left -- before collapsing altogether under a three-pronged assault from teal independents, Labor and the Greens.

Whereas the Liberals held 16 of the 20 top-ranked seats by average household income at the time of the 2011 census, the recent election brought that crashing down to six, with the independents taking seven seats, Labor six and the Greens one.