Batman – Australia 2016

ALP 10.6% vs GRN

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

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.

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.


  • 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)

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.


  • 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

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

2013 two-candidate-preferred result

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
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.


  1. Labor should get up here. The Greens will surely have a swing towards them and this should become marginal as a consequence.

  2. As Ben notes in the article, that’s entirely dependent on what preferences the Liberals recommend here.

    No Liberal candidate here yet?

  3. Even if the Libs preference the Greens they will need a swing towards the them. Their should be a swing towards Labor considering they had a drubbing on primary vote last election. The Greens will solidify their hold around Northcote, and will make gains around Preston and Thornbury, but Reservoir will be a sticking point for them.

  4. If the Libs preference the Greens, they don’t need a swing towards them. If you recalculate the Liberal preference flow as about 80% (as it was in 2010) then the Greens win without any shift in primary votes.

  5. L96: In your first post, you predicted a swing towards the Greens, but then in your next one you predict a swing towards Labor? I’m a bit confused…

  6. They both should have a swing towards them on primary vote, the greens gain would be larger I suspect. Labor had a swing against them of 10% on primary and I’d expect them to gain a little bit back.

  7. Michael Kroger has already made his decision about lib preferences. It remains to be seen if can bring the party with him.

  8. @Winediamond Kroger rightly believes that the Libs need a greater share of preferences in order to win more seats in Victoria, so he is willing to do a deal with the Greens and other minor parties.

    This is partly driven by the party’s pining for the success of the glory days, unseen since Andrew Peacock in 1990. I have no doubt the Libs will acquiesce to him, this was their normal policy prior to 2013 and they value electoral success above all.

  9. I think you’d find in areas that are strongly Green that the preferences from the Libs are stronger than in the areas where they don’t poll as highly. I would say this as Inner city Libs, especially in this area of Melbourne would be relatively small l and progressive, Where as Libs in the north of the electorate are more likely to be migrants with a lesser view of the Greens.

  10. L96
    That is quite an assumption. IMV it is more to do with a voter deciding how to do the max damage to the ALP. IMV it may well have nothing to do with affection for the Greens, relative or otherwise

  11. The divide between the ALP and Green voting areas in Batman is a little more complicated than just Bell St. In the west of the seat, the Green vote holding above 20 extends along the railway and tram lines into Regent, while in the east, the Green vote being bellow 20 extends well into Thornbury (the only PT there is buses and there is a significant proportion of public housing).

  12. What I find amusing about the ALP here is that draft AEC determination for Batman proposed including Heidelberg West. The ALP fought tooth and nail against it… arguing it should stay in Jaga Jaga, it would be ironic if in retrospect if its shown these voters could have staved off the Greens in Batman.

    I suspect we’ll see a Green victory here, the Libs would be mad not to do a deal as its pulls ALP resources away from its marginals….and if the EW debacle thought the Libs anything it’s that the ALP, not the Greens, are the ones that rip up contracts.

  13. Sandbelter
    Yep !!!. That would by absolutely hysterical !!!.
    It would be a high point of the night to see the gormless David Feeny (faceless man !!) give some teary concession speech. Better still if he started blaming others !!!.

  14. A Green MP in Batman would still support the ALP in a hung Parliament, a Liberal in Jagajaga would not. Ergo, the ALP was acting in its electoral best interests here.

  15. Tom
    There is a price for such a “devil’s due” !!!. I for one would like them to attempt to pay it again !!!. It worked out so, so, so well for them last time !!!!

    Adam Bandt was quick to lay them on the table yesterday, & what a list it was !!!!. Fundamentally, the terms were ” we will let you govern on , & by our terms ”
    The normal flexible, accommodating, conciliatory, constructive, cooperative, pragmatic negotiating style, & actions of the Greens being forefront as always !!!!.
    BTW IMV the Libs would have had no chance in Jaga Jaga under the current boundaries regardless of W Heidelberg.

  16. It’s nonsense to describe any MP as a “faceless man” – they’re all very much public figures.

    Insofar as the term has any applicability at all, it applies to the unelected backroom operators in the parties – someone who is purported to “pull the strings” but is unknown to the general public.

  17. Actually, Tom without Heidelberg West the the ALP margin in Jagajaga would be in the 1.0% to 1.5% range and the area has been drifting to the Libs (along with the Frankston line) for about 10 years now. IMO the next electoral cycle should see the Libs win it.

    However the ALP can handle the Libs its an adversarial relationship.

    The Greens are the ALP’s enemy, its yet to dislodge a Green (at least in Vic) so far all seats gone to the Greens have not returned ….in short when its gone it gone for good. We may not be a few years off a Green/ALP coalition in Victoria, and look what that did for the ALP in Tasmania.

    Winediamond, FYI…I don’t see Victoria playing out like in western Sydney, Victorians tend to vote out the ALP one term early so they never really get on the nose, NSW tends to be one term late.

    I see Tasmania being the template, the drift to the Libs between Bentleigh and Frankston in the south and Ivanhoe and Eltham in the northeast will eventually push the ALP into a coalition with the Greens. Then it will get amusing as it will a bad part of the economic cycle.

  18. Sandbelter
    I thought i was emphasising, just how different things are between the 2 states. I agee with your historical comparison. However i am certain it will be different in the future

  19. Genuinely under threat if the Libs preference the Greens Party.

    The Greens candidate said on her Facebook that ‘there is no preference deal’, which seems a little disingenuous (i.e BS) to me, when it’s clear talks have been going on.

    We’ll see what personal vote Feeney has worked up over the past three years.

  20. PJ
    I really doubt that Feeny could foster much affinity with ordinary people. So no personal vote other than normal incumbency.
    I agree about the total BS. Clearly the Greens are in discussions about open tickets, just for starters. If that’s not a deal, then i don’t know what is……

  21. If the Libs do preference the Greens, it should be a tight ALP-GRN contest though I think Labor would still be favourite to hold. While Feeney has the advantage of incumbency, he’s not that high profile and demographic changes over time in inner Melbourne make such seats more likely to fall to the Greens with each passing election.

  22. Batman are the Greens’ biggest chance for a second lower house seat. I think it’s very winnable for the Greens.

  23. Could Feeney’s gaffe re: ‘forgetting’ to declare a $2.3 MN house that happens to be negatively geared hurt him? I know that if I were in the Greens, I’d be slamming him relentlessly about it.

  24. Would love to see the Greens capitalise on Feeney’s gaffe of not declaring a $2.3 MN house after Labor have been slamming MT for financial transparency throughout the election. I wonder if this will affect Liberal preferencing?

  25. There’s no evidence of that. It was Feeney himself who alerted the press to the existence of the property in a story last week about MPs who live outside their electorate.

  26. This only compounds Feeney’s problems. Labor deserve to lose Batman, they air drop a factional warlord in, mostly through numbers achieved by branch stacking. Labor have held this seat with such contempt for far too long.

  27. This is true. The ALP have not been seriously threatened in Batman since 1977. Granted its boundaries were a bit further east at the time.

  28. 2.3 mil seems an awful lot for a house that apparently needs renovations, even in Northcote. The house sure doesn’t look anything special in the photos accompanying the story.

    And another 2 mil + for an apartment in East Melbourne?

    If I had 2 mil, I’d rather buy a mansion out at Templestowe or somewhere.

  29. L96
    More trouble for Feeney. Article in the the OZ today. Two insider mates writing him off. Saying stuff like he treats the seat as if it’s the safest in the country, which it is not.
    It says a lot if your own side are writing you off

  30. If you believe anonymous sources in the Australian. Going on that rag’s rep, it’s probably a long discarded Labor figure who met Feeney’s once 20 years ago. If indeed there’s a source at all and not just your standard Murdoch muckraking.

    General rule about journalism – if a source can’t be named, there’s every chance it doesn’t exist at all.

  31. PJ
    Is it more likely than not ??? . Fairfax is saying much the same. Does it FEEL right ??. If the sources are accurate, & authentic , of course they would only speak off the record.

    Did Peter Harcher ever name Kevin Rudd as his source ??.

    Latham recounts in his book the Latham diaries ( which i’m sure you have never read !!) that he could always tell a Rudd leak, from the grandiosity of the language !!!

    As for your obvious feelings about “Murdoch muckraking ” . Well……. i do hear a lot of theories about editorial control from my lefty friends. However i just find it hard to accept that Rupert is that interested in Australia. I just don’t get it . Why ??. Please convince me. I mean that sincerely.

  32. Feeny is a weak candidate. I think this seat is realistically in a lot more danger it is than on paper.

  33. After his ‘car wreck’ of an interview today on Sky, one would almost think that the guy wants to hand the seat to The Greens. He may well have done enough in the last week to do that?

  34. Are Feeney’s missteps of the type that voters actually notice? They are not really personal scandals. It really depends on Liberal preferences & whether Greens can make a push in the north of the seat. Feeney is disliked by political insiders but Greens have a lot of ground to make up, unlike Sydney or Grayndler this isn’t a seat where the Greens have underperformed in 2013.

  35. SportsBet is now favouring the Greens to win this seat over Labor, 1.50 to 2.50, which is quite significant as the betting market is freakishly accurate when it comes to predicting election outcomes.

  36. geoffr89, & W of S
    FWIW Feeney seems to have made a national spectacle of himself !!!! . Like the hapless Jaime Diaz managed last election.

    Once a pollie has become a topic of conversation, a momentum of awareness builds. This becomes somewhat inescapable if he is your Elected MP…… An embarrassment to be sure

  37. The idea that election betting markets are “freakishly accurate” is a popular notion, but is in fact nonsense. Witness the inexplicable volatility of some of the price movements, documented in the McEwen thread. They’re flying by the seat of their pants like the rest of the us.

    Feeney has certainly diminished his standing in this campaign. But like Geoff I wonder how much impact it has with voters. I’d peg him a very slight underdog if the Libs direct HTV preferences to the Greens.

  38. With Feeney basically advertising the fact he is a poor candidate for the last couple of weeks it’s looking extremely likely that the Greens will gain Batman if the Libs direct their voters to preference them.

    You can’t take any seat for granted as safe, especially somewhere like here where a candidate like Feeney is just going to hasten any shift within the electorate to the Greens.

  39. Betting markets called 12 seats wrong out of 150 last time; one of the many they missed was the Greens victory in Melbourne.
    I think the Liberals are likely to decide who wins the seat, though I suspect the Greens would have a better chance of winning without Lib preferences than Labor would.
    Had Liberal preferences gone in 2013 exactly as they did in 2010, the Greens would have won by 50.4 % to 49.6. On any realistic assessment, they now have a stronger base in the electorate, and a weaker opponent.
    Tony Nutt’s statement implied that the Liberals’ decision on preferences would not be simply one for the states. But it wouldn’t surprise me if they split them, for example, directing preferences to Labor in NSW and the Tasmanian Senate, but to the Greens in inner suburban Melbourne. And I suspect they will enjoy taking their time to make a decision!

  40. PJ
    No comment on Troy Bramston’s piece in the Weekend Australian ???.
    Or did you miss that ??. Or is he a standard Murdoch muckraker ??

  41. From those quotes, the Liberals will be running the “say no to minority government” card. Either that, or the Greens weren’t going to give them enough in return.

    The Greens can still win Batman if they get a solid increase in the primary vote at the expense of Labor.


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