Batman – Australia 2016

ALP 10.6% vs GRN

Incumbent MP
David Feeney, since 2013. Previously Senator for Victoria, 2008-2013.

Geography
Batman covers parts of the inner north of Melbourne. Batman covers all of the City of Darebin as well as parts of Yarra and Whittlesea. Batman covers the suburbs of Fairfield, Northcote, Thornbury, Preston, Reservoir and Kingsbury.

History
Batman is a long-standing Melbourne electorate, and for most of its history it has been held by Labor MPs.

The seat was first won in 1906 by Protectionist candidate Jabez Coon. Coon held the seat for only one term before losing it to Labor candidate Henry Beard in 1910. Beard was a former Labor state MP, and died only months after his election to the House of Representatives.

The ensuing by-election in 1911 was won by the ALP’s Frank Brennan. Brennan held the seat for the next twenty years, serving as Attorney-General in the Scullin government from 1929 until 1931. At the 1931 election Brennan lost his seat and the Scullin government was defeated, with Batman being won by UAP candidate Samuel Dennis.

Dennis only held on for one term, losing to Brennan in 1934. Brennan held the seat for another fifteen years, retiring in 1949.

Batman was won in 1949 by the ALP’s Alan Bird, a former Mayor of Northcote. Bird was re-elected throughout the 1950s, returning to the Northcote mayoralty for one year in 1958. He died in office in 1962.

The 1962 by-election was won by Williamstown mayor Sam Benson. Benson was re-elected in 1963 but in 1966 was expelled from the ALP over his support for the Vietnam War. He managed to win election as an independent in 1966. Benson retired in 1969, and the seat went to Labor candidate and Collingwood mayor Horace Garrick in 1969.

Garrick was re-elected at the 1972, 1974 and 1975 elections, but lost preselection in 1976 to Brian Howe, who won the seat at the 1977 election. Howe became a junior minister upon the election of the Hawke government in 1983, and was promoted to Cabinet following the 1984 election. Howe became Deputy Prime Minister in 1991 after Paul Keating moved to the backbench following a failed challenge to Bob Hawke’s leadership, and Howe held the position until 1995. He retired at the 1996 election.

Howe was succeeded in 1996 by former ACTU president Martin Ferguson. Ferguson went straight into the Labor shadow cabinet and was a shadow minister for the entirety of the Howard government, and joined the Cabinet in 2007 after the election of the Rudd government. Ferguson resigned from the ministry in early 2013, and retired at the 2013 election.

Batman was won in 2013 by Labor candidate David Feeney. Feeney had been a Senator since 2008, and had served as a parliamentary secretary since 2010, but had been demoted to the marginal third position on the Labor ticket. Feeney was elected in Batman, and has served as a shadow minister since the 2013 election.

Candidates

  • Philip Sutton (Independent)
  • Maurice Oldis (Renewable Energy Party)
  • Joel Murray (Sex Party)
  • Alex Bhathal (Greens)
  • Russell Hayward (Australian Progressives)
  • Geoffrey Cicuto (Cyclists Party)
  • George Souris (Liberal)
  • David Feeney (Labor)
  • Caitlin Evans (Animal Justice)
  • Franco Guardiani (Independent)
  • Elizabeth Syber (Australian Equality Party)

Assessment
The result in Batman will be significantly shaped by the Liberal Party’s decision about who they preference.

If the Liberal Party repeats their 2013 decision to preference Labor, it will be difficult for the Greens to seriously challenge the current 10.6% margin.

However a change in Liberal preferencing would make the race much closer. The Greens have come second to Labor in the last two elections. In 2010, when the Liberal Party preferenced the Greens, over 80% of Liberal preferences flowed to the Greens in Melbourne and Batman. If you adjust Liberal preferences in 2013 to flow in the way they did in 2010, then Feeney’s 10.6% margin is replaced by a 0.2% margin for the Greens. Considering this scenario, a change in Liberal preferencing will make this seat very winnable.

Polls

  • 53% to Labor after preferences, 34% Labor, 34% Greens, 23% Liberal on primary votes – Newspoll, 13-15 June 2016
  • 55% to Greens after preferences, 41% to Greens, 28% Labor on primary votes – Lonergan, date unknown

2013 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
David Feeney Labor 36,79841.3-10.6
Alex Bhathal Greens 23,52226.4+2.7
George Souris Liberal 20,01722.5+2.4
Lianna SliwczynskiSex Party2,3012.6+2.5
Franco GuardianiPalmer United Party2,2532.5+2.5
Rosemary LavinAnimal Justice Party1,2501.4+1.4
Pat WintertonRise Up Australia1,1211.3+1.3
Ken SmithiesFamily First1,1261.3-1.9
Philip Sutton7260.8+0.8
Informal5,4506.1

2013 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
David Feeney Labor 54,00960.6+2.9
Alex Bhathal Greens 35,10539.4-2.9
Polling places in Batman at the 2013 federal election. Central in green, North in red, South in blue. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Batman at the 2013 federal election. Central in green, North in red, South in blue. Click to enlarge.

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into three areas: north, central and south. The southern area is centred on Northcote. The central area is centred on Preston and Thornbury. The northern area is centred on Reservoir.

There is a wide variety in the vote across this electorate. The Greens vote was more than double the Liberal vote in the south, while the Liberals more than doubled the Greens vote in the north.

The ALP topped the primary vote in the north and the centre, with a vote ranging from 34% in the south to almost 50% in the north.

The Greens outpolled Labor in the south with 41.5%, but their vote drops to only 12.3% in the north.

The Liberal Party’s vote ranged from 17.5% in the south to 26.4% in the north, with the Liberal coming second at the northern end of the seat.

Voter groupALP %GRN %LIB %Total votes% of votes
Central43.926.820.221,46324.1
North49.612.326.421,43924.1
South34.341.517.517,46519.6
Other votes37.427.424.328,74732.3
Two-candidate-preferred (Labor vs Greens) votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred (Labor vs Greens) votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.
Labor primary votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.
Labor primary votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.
Liberal primary votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.
Liberal primary votes in Batman at the 2013 federal election.

84 COMMENTS

  1. Very tough to win without Liberal preferences. About a 10% increase in primary vote is required for The Greens with a bit coming off Labor and Libs.

  2. PJ

    Yep a lot of people have put their money on Labor today in Batman, odds for Feeney are now into $1.15, Bhathal out to $4.00.

    Obviously harder for the Greens to win here but 37% of Liberal voters preferenced them over Labor at the last election, so there is a significant minority not following the HTV.

    Still for the Greens to win they will need to at least increase their primary vote above that of Labor’s and hope for a strong flow of preferences from the myriad of minor parties and independents as well as preference leakage from the Libs.

  3. I don’t think Feeney is guaranteed to be shoe in, even if the Libs are indicating preferences to him. Now that Labor have Liberal preferences, they’ll be pooling their resources into Liberal marginal seats and away from this one; the Greens on the otherhand, will likely out campaign Labor on the ground in these final weeks as a result. It will be very close either way.

  4. Morgan apparently has the Greens on 42% of the primary vote here (!), which would give them a huge chance of winning even without directed preferences.

    Kevin Bonham notes that Morgan tends to over-estimate the Greens, although their Greens primary for Melbourne (41.5%) looked quite reasonable.

  5. MM
    As always I’m skeptical of Morgan, although that being said if this is true the Greens may just pull it off.

  6. Such a diverse electorate getting right sample for polling would be challenge. Greens seem to be targeting Labor’s base in older NESB voters probably easy ground to made up here but probably not enough

  7. Morgan FWIW says Greens 40.5, ALP 34.5, LNP 18.5, Others 6.5.

    This equates to “Greens gain” according to Morgan, but on those figures Labor would probably get enough preferences to overtake them.

  8. Oops, the figures I quoted were for Melbourne.

    Still, even on the “correct” figures, I would expect Labor to overtake the Greens on preferences (just).

  9. Interesting results. But it’s worth noting these figures have a sampling error of about 6%.

    You wouldn’t think Batman and Melbourne going to produce near identical primary results. If they are, then Melbourne is a lot more competitive than previously thought.

  10. So Newspoll has ALP and Greens on 34% each
    Morgan has ALP on 34.5% and Greens on 40%
    Lonergan has ALP on 28% and Greens on 41%

    If I had to estimate, I’d say the “true” values are probably closer to:

    ALP 33%, Greens 38%

    And based on that, I’d say we have a real competition, here. We might be set to see a margin of less than 1%. Probably with Labor holding on, by a sliver.

  11. It seems that the punters are agreeing with me that this is getting quite close.

    Labor was at 1.25 before today…

    Labor 1.75, Greens 2.00

  12. Labor continues to strengthen, but Greens haven’t weakened??

    Labor 1.52, Greens 2.10

    (could perhaps be a typo?)

  13. Feeney is a poor candidate, and especially damaging in a seat like Batman. I’d expect the Greens to win, probably on a primary vote in the high 30’s.

  14. Malcolm
    Totally agree . The bloke is a debacle. Who would feel good, let alone ok about voting for such a cretin ??.

    This is why labor will lose. The embarrassment factor !!!

  15. ‘ALP insiders here say the result “will be the flip of a coin” ‘

    m.theage.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2016/election-2016-the-unknowns-20160624-gpr720.html

  16. Greens running an incredible social media campaign as well as a hefty boots on the ground effort. Feeney much quieter online and focused on meeting community leaders. Local ALP members loathe Feeney and will vote Green. I’m calling this one for the Greens. I suspect a lot of leakage in Liberal preferences towards Alex Bhatal. Still it will be close.

  17. Looks like the Greens might be making good inroads, here.

    Labor 1.80, Greens 1.95

    Definitely one to watch on Saturday night, it seems.

  18. Interesting article in the Guardian on the struggle for Batman – what’s happening down Tram Route 86. what is also interesting is that anyone browsing the Guardian site this morning will encounter lots of Green advertising – not sure what other sites they are spending money on – but an interesting development below the visibility of the mainstream media.

  19. @doughyndnetspeedcomau:

    The Greens recently put out an email soliciting for donations so that they could buy out the Guardian’s advertising space on its website in the days leading up to and including polling day. Looks like they successfully raised the money to do that.

  20. This will be my last time updating the Sportsbet numbers, and… punters are now favouring the Greens.

    Greens 1.8, Labor 1.95

  21. David Feeney is probably going to hold on from postals and Liberal preferences. But this seat should have never been this difficult for Labor to hold and alot sandbagging was required when it could have been spending resources elsewhere. Feeney is not completely out of the woods left, but he has to be favored that he will get over the line.

  22. As with Wills, the Greens won the 2CP in virtually every booth south of Bell Street, and they are starting to seriously eat into Preston and southern Reservoir as well. Only the very northern and north-eastern edges remain strong for Labor.

    With plenty of scope to keep improving as Preston and Reservoir continue to gentrify, the Greens will be very difficult to hold back next time if they don’t win in 2016.

  23. I can’t believe that Feeney is going to get over the line. The one seat I wanted the Greens to win!

  24. Feeney has shown himself to be a complete dill but I suspect there are a least a dozen Coalition members who make him seem like a Rhodes Scholar eg. Goodenough in WA and a host of party appartchiks in QLD.s LNP. There was a good reason why Turnbull would rarely let his local members speak when he was in their electorate; not withstanding the fact that the PM was largely dithering and incoherent in a Bjelke fashion.

  25. On the other hand, the Greens remind me of football teams many people support – look at the highlights of the season just gone and note a few great signings for next year, only to be disappointed and miss the semis again.

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