Saturday, February 3, 2018

Batman: A Unique Federal By-Election

Batman (Vic): ALP vs Green 1.0%
Ged Kearney (ALP) vs Alex Bhathal (Green)
Incumbent David Feeney (ALP) resigned over eligibility issues
Outlook: No reliable data basis for predicting this seat.  

A by-election will be held for the Victorian seat of Batman in the near future after David Feeney became the first confirmed Labor casualty of the Section 44 citizenship fiasco.  Feeney threw in the towel when he was unable to find any positive evidence that he had renounced his UK citizenship circa 2007. Some Labor insiders believe the seat is now unsaveable while some are more upbeat that they may just hold it.

This could be the last time we'll be referring to the seat by the name "Batman".  There's a significant campaign to rename it after Simon Wonga, but that won't be decided until the redistribution process concludes later this year.

The heavy lifting by way of preview has already been done at Tally Room and Poll Bludger with their excellent by-election guides.  The seat's dramatically split voting pattern was laid out by Michael McCarthy in his pieces (here's the latest) on the "hipster-proof fence" (aka Tofu Curtain, Great Wall of Quinoa, Corduroy Line) around Bell Street, which divides the Green-friendlier and Labor-friendlier sides of the electorate.  Also of interest may be Kosmos Samaras' analysis of why Labor is getting trashed by the Greens in inner-city seats like the state seat of Northcote (the southern half of Batman) and (see also Tim Colebatch on this) what they can try to do about it.  A convenient step-up in attacks on the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland probably isn't it (at least, not by itself).

All that really remains for me to do is to put this by-election into its proper historic context, by telling you it really doesn't have one.  It's been said that all by-elections are unique, but this one is especially so. And while that might sound like an open invitation to pay slavish attention to the polling that is bound to appear, I don't recommend doing that either.  Seat polling in Australia is a struggling enterprise at the best of times, but inner-city seats with high enrolment churn are especially hard to poll and we've seen a chain of severe (at times, double-digit) polling failures in them.  In 2016 in this seat, Newspoll had Labor winning 53-47 (reasonably accurate given the 51-49 margin) while a Greens-commissioned Lonergan that had the Greens winning 55-45 was well wide of the mark.

Why Batman Is Different

Batman is the latest example of a rare species of federal by-election caused by the former MP either having their place in the parliament taken away from them, or resigning because that was about to occur.  In all there have been eight previous cases of this - four election voidings between 1904 and 1920, Hugh Mahon's expulsion for sedition in 1920, the disqualifications of Jackie Kelly in 1996 and Barnaby Joyce last year, and the resignation of John Alexander pending the same fate also last year.

What sets the Batman by-election apart from all of these, firstly, is that the incumbent isn't recontesting.  There's been a view that these kinds of by-elections suit the party whose MP has been disqualified because voters resent being sent back to the polls because of legal technicalities.  However, it's been difficult to separate this claimed effect from factors like the recency of the election (in Kelly's case) and the personal vote of the incumbent.  Now we have a by-election where the incumbent is resigning in expectation of disqualification, but isn't recontesting, so if there is a sympathy vote, does it flow to a different candidate from the same party?  It seems unlikely that it would, given that parties do not even get sympathy votes at by-elections when the incumbent MP has died.

The next aspect that is unusual is that Batman is a Labor versus Green contest. The history of swings at federal by-elections mostly concerns two-party preferred swings between Labor and the Coalition (which can then be divided into government and opposition seat by-elections and so on).  It is hard to apply that history to a serious contest between an opposition party and a minor party on its own side of the fence.  The seat will be up for grabs again within 15 months, and the outcome does not affect the government's majority.  So for anyone who feels like voting Green to send a message to Labor about - well, anything really - this is basically a free hit.

 The only federal by-election to have previously finished as a close Labor-Greens contest was the Cunningham by-election won by the Greens' Michael Organ in 2002, but Cunningham was not an established Labor vs Greens seat at that time, and didn't become one thereafter.  The Greens had only scored 6.6% there at the previous election (with another 7.2% for the Democrats).

Cunningham shared a feature with Green state by-election victories over Labor in Fremantle (WA 2009) and Northcote (Vic 2017), which is that in each case the Liberal Party didn't contest.  However, Labor narrowly retained the Melbourne state by-election (2012) under the same circumstances, in a seat that is now solidly Green.

One might expect the Liberals to also sit out Batman, since their normal result in the seat (third place at the last three elections, less than 20% primary in 2016) is embarrassing enough even without the normal by-election anti-government reaction factored in.  That said, Michael Kroger has suggested the Liberals might run someone to try to spoil Greens candidates if they decide that they don't like Alex Bhathal's position on Palestinian issues.  I would imagine that running to get, say, 15% of the vote in the hope of making a three-point difference on preferences wouldn't be a lot of fun for any Liberal candidate.  Presumably the intended payoff of such a miserable exercise would be bragging rights in the three-cornered contest for the seat of Melbourne Ports, with its high Jewish vote.  Whether Kroger is serious about all this or whether it is a warning shot to future Greens candidates remains to be seen.

In any case, Kroger doesn't have the final say - my suspicion is the party will pike, lest the momentum of having Labor on the rack over Section 44 issues be blunted by a shabby result.  The possibility of a loss to the Greens placing pressure on Bill Shorten's leadership would also be a juicy temptation.

If the Liberals don't run (as widely expected), that becomes trouble for Labor when we look at the preference distribution from 2016.  The Greens' regular candidate for this seat, Alex Bhathal, led by 0.9% on primaries, but had expanded this to 3.7% on the preferences of a gaggle of left-wing micro-parties. However, Liberal primary votes then split 63.6% to 36.4%, because the Liberal Party had decided to preference Labor over the Greens, and Liberal Party voters have rather high how-to-vote-card follow rates.

The evidence of Northcote (the south end of Batman) in particular is that once Liberal voters no longer have a how-to-vote card to follow, they behave much more evenly between Labor and the Greens.  Thus an overall preference flow (mostly from Liberal voters) in Northcote of 66% to Labor in 2014 became only 46% to Labor at the 2017 Northcote by-election.  At the 2016 federal election the flow of preferences to Labor in Batman was 55%. This may have been because of David Feeney's unpopularity (see below) but the number of left-wing micro-parties contesting would also have been a factor.

Candidate Factors

We don't have to pay much attention to candidate factors in the case of Bhathal, since she has been the Greens candidate for this seat five times since 2001.  She will have a high degree of name recognition, but that would also have been the case in 2016, so mostly that is already factored in.  In the lead-up to this by-election there have been some minor but ineffective rustlings against her within Greens ranks.

However in the case of Labor, candidate factors are very relevant.  David Feeney had an utter shambles of a campaign in 2016 and as a result his personal vote was net-negative.  Assessing the size of a candidate's personal vote is messy but one measure that can work well (all else being equal) is to compare the difference between the party's House of Representatives vote and the party's Senate vote, with the same difference for other candidates of the same party in seats in the same state, especially surrounding seats.  This debate came up recently when defenders of Melbourne Ports MHR Michael Danby claimed Danby had a good personal vote because he had polled five points higher than Labor's Victorian Senate vote.  In fact, Stephen Murray showed that Danby had the third worst personal vote by this measure of any successful Victorian ALP candidate.  The second worst score belonged to Peter Khalil (Wills) - who as a new MP was not comparable - and the worst score was Feeney, with a House minus Senate difference of just 0.4%, nearly eight points below the median for Victorian Labor incumbents.  Given that incumbency is typically considered to be worth at most two points on average (and probably less), this suggests Feeney's personal vote was somewhere around -6%.  I doubt it's really that bad though; it could be though that Bhathal has a personal vote through her repeated attempts at the seat and that that made Feeney look a bit worse in this comparison than he was.

It would stand to reason that where a bad incumbent is ditched, a party's base vote should improve.  However there are not that many obvious examples to compare with, and many of these (eg Robertson and Bass in 2010) involve first-term incumbents only.  When a first-term incumbent does not recontest, their party still has a personal vote advantage, since at the previous election the other side had an incumbent, and now nobody does.

The new Labor candidate, Ged Kearney, is a very high-profile name as President of the ACTU since 2010, and has been seeking a political career for some time.  The ACTU is not quite as influential as it was in the Bob Hawke days (Hawke's approval as leader of the ACTU was being routinely polled for years before he entered parliament) but the post has still produced some heavy hitters since, such as former Labor leader Simon Crean and former Minister Martin Ferguson (the Batman MHR prior to Feeney).


One possible approach to a very foolhardy attempt to model Batman is to use Northcote as a base for the kind of swing that might occur.  In Northcote Labor copped an 11.6% swing; in Batman anything over 1% will mean the Greens pick up the seat.

The primary difference between Northcote and Batman is the Labor candidate factor.  In Northcote, Labor lost a popular 11-year incumbent and Minister while in Batman they are losing a dud.  In Batman, they also have a much stronger replacement candidate than in Northcote.  The second important difference is that Northcote was a state government seat while Batman is a federal Opposition seat.  The not-especially-popular Andrews government may still have some drag effect on the result, but it shouldn't be as much.

These differences should be worth several points.  But are they worth as much 10.6 points combined?  They could be (indeed there might even be a swing to Labor after the Feeney 2016 disaster), but I'm mildly sceptical.  However, if another difference is added by assuming that the Liberals run and preference Labor, there could be enough there for Labor to hold on.

Another approach is to just ignore 2016 and ask, if we use 2013 as a base, is there enough reason for a 10.6% swing to the Greens?  That line makes things look more positive for Labor, because while the impact of the Liberals not running a candidate could be as high as five points, if there was no reason for an Opposition to be affected by the usual swing factors at by-elections, then maybe Labor should hold.  However, that ignores the portion of the 2013 to 2016 swing that had nothing to do with David Feeney's terrible campaign.  The Green vote in the Senate in Batman increased by 4.25 points from 2013 to 2016 in the context of a status-quo state result.  That demographic change has probably continued since, so underlying shifts plus the Liberals not running would be about enough to wipe out the 2013 margin by themselves.  So Kearney will have to campaign very well to counteract any by-election effect.

I don't think it is hopeless for Labor but it does appear to be quite difficult.

Poll (25 Feb)

A poll-shaped object has been detected in the form of a landline-only Lonergan of 693 voters.  It is not reported (and should have been) whether this poll was commissioned by anyone or just done by the company off their own bat.

Aside from the modest sample size, causing the 53-47 to Labor result to be within the notional margin of error, the poll has numerous red flags.  No-one in their right mind would poll landline-only in an inner-city seat anymore, after the numerous robo-polling failures in such seats in recent times (it's risky enough in any seat!)  The report acknowledges that respondents were heavily skewed to voters aged 35+, meaning that the scaling from younger voters is going to be from a very small sample, increasing the poll's unreliability and notional margin of error.  That's even assuming that the young voters who were reached were representative, which they very likely weren't.  The poll also appears to have used a forced-choice issues question on whether voters were more likely or less likely to vote for a party that supported the Adani coal mine - isn't a voter in Victoria (even in Batman) allowed to not care about a hypothetical hole in the ground in Queensland?

If this poll is correct it will be a very, very, very lucky hit!

Update (1 March)

Lonergan's chances of being lucky have increased as there has been a significant attack on Bhathal from within. While rumblings of such internal dissent had been present in the lead-up to the by-election, they seemed to have been smoothed over, but the leaking of excerpts from a detailed complaint (albeit a dismissed one) can't be helpful.

In recent days betting odds as lopsided as Greens 1.10 Labor 4.50 have been seen but I suspect it was closer than that even before this latest incident. 

Update (13 March): Fake Poll Alert

There hasn't been any new polling data.  A claimed Labor internal poll dated 9-11 March has appeared on Twitter but I consider it to be a fake.  It has the same 2PP as Lonergan's poll but different primaries, together with a screed about the success of Labor's campaign that refers to "media allies" and attempts to distract from issues like Adani or refugees.


  1. I would have thought that Labor nominating a candidate with such strong union connections would be off-putting for the Liberals. It seems hard to believe the Liberals would be willing to preference the former head of the ACTU because the Greens are supposedly so intolerably antisemitic (which is an unfair accusation to begin with, but is particularly ridiculous coming from a party that constantly complains about "political correctness gone mad").

    I doubt the Liberals will run in the Batman by-election. As you said, they don't have a shot at winning, and I can't imagine they're particularly keen on helping to elect a union heavyweight into parliament. I think Kroger's really just trying to lay the groundwork in Melbourne Ports.

  2. Hi Kevin,

    Are there any examples of by-elections that are LIB vs NAT when the ALP is in Govt and either LIB or NAT previously held the seat? That might be as close to the current situation.

  3. I can see Kearney shoring up the Labor vote on her own strengths as a candidate, but Labor really have let Batman go with a succession of crap candidates: Ferguson and then Feeney at federal level, a lousy state MP in Preston, the part of the electorate they still do well in, and a bunch of nonentities on Darebin council. Feeney was amazing in his capacity to piss people off on any issue merely by opening his mouth, and Labor would have polled better if they'd just permanently gagged him entirely.

  4. Federally there's Groom 1988 but it's not a useful example - Joh backed the Liberal who it seems was also preferenced by the ALP (who did contest) and the Liberal took the seat off the Nationals. At the previous election the seat had been Nats vs Labor with the Liberals only getting 13%. May be some cases at state level.

  5. This will be a massive win for the Greens. The ALP have chosen a candidate, who, whatever her merits, will not attract those who normally vote for the Coalition. In fact I would suggest that Coalition voters faced with the choice between voting for the ALP with a ACTU candidate or a Greens candidate will vote overwhelmingly for the latter.

    1. Alex Bhathal is the local image of integrity and compassion. Kearney starrs by givibg up her principles on refugees and is not a local. The choice is clear!

  6. The problem with Ged Kearney as an ALP candidate is that shecis not a local and is being parachuted into Batmam. Bigger problem is an ever increasingly discerning electorate th et will resent her giving up on her principles to gain preselection and the fact that her poor role in protecting penalty rates is well known. Another big issue is that Adani is seen as a LABOR mine and Kearney will follow Shorten's orders and support it. Political death sentence to appear as a Shorten's puppet again....

  7. My bet here is that the Australian Conservative voto should be between 9-19% in their second attempt at a lower house seat, with no Liberal candidate this should be achievable.
    Result will be a close call my tip is Australian Greens by a coin flip

  8. The entry of the Conservatives will help the ALP. I expect the other six candidates' recommendations will split 4/2 Greens/ALP. I still expect a big win to the Greens.

  9. (A note re Unknown posters - I don't know why some posters come through as Unknown. Clicking on the word Unknown will often establish if they are known unknowns or unknown unknowns.)

    I expect the AC vote to be lower than the past Liberal vote, probably in the low double figures. Their presence does assist Labor if they do preference Labor and make some effort to hand out cards.

  10. I don't know what the AC vote will be, but I do note that the Lib Dems (who even have "Liberal" in their name) only managed 4% in Northcote. I know AC is more high-profile, but still - possible they will only get single figures. (I know, I know, Northcote =/ Batman.)

    1. Might be so. I think even among the sub-20% who would normally vote Liberal there would be many who would baulk at voting AC.

  11. Are you actually suggesting no Greens voters in Batman have landlines? Or that only Labor voters have landlines? That's the old saw usually applied to Lib/Lab square-offs, where anyone with a landline is seen, probably wrongly, as being a doddering old conservative. Are we really saying in this poll Labor voters are cast as role-playing cliched Tories? This by-election is weird. All it shows, if the hostile chatter on social media is any guide, is that Greens supporters are a rather angry, unreasoning bunch, with a mindset bordering on a kind of insular fanaticism, found otherwise only amongst Nationals and One Nation supporters.

    1. Not sure if that comment was addressed to anyone in particular but I'm certainly not suggesting that. The issue with landline polling is that while you will get some voters from all parties using landlines, you'll get a skewed base sample - skewed towards older voters, and in Lonergan's case females. It's especially a problem because one of the big demographics for the Greens is 18-25, but a landline poll catches few of those and an atypical sample of them. Polls can try to correct this using demographic weightings, as Newspoll did successfully at the 2013 federal election, but in the last few years reputable pollsters have generally avoided landline-only polling. It is risky because the response rates you get in certain demographics are so tiny that you have to multiply a few voters by a very large amount in the final calculation, and this creates massive potential for random error.

      Whether that error also skews in any one direction isn't clear and is beside the point - the point is that if a 53-47 result is really +/- 10 points not +/- 4 because of weighting issues then it is not very informative. Pollsters seldom admit to the impact of weighting issues on what they claim to be their margins of error.

      People who answer landlines do tend to skew conservative on average, primarily by reason of age - for instance I have tables for a Lonergan for the NSW state election 2015 where the base L-NP vote was 53%, which was scaled down to 47% after weighting (the actual result was 45.6%). In that case the Labor vote was little affected by scaling while the Greens and Others votes were scaled up. I am certain raw landline samples will on average also skew to Labor compared to the Greens because of the undersampling of very young voters. That doesn't mean the final results will necessarily share that skew - just that they will be erratic as hell.

      In my experience all parties attract fanatical supporters - on Twitter I encounter a lot of unreasoning Labor partisans who believe every poll they do not like is a Murdoch plot. However the Greens more than any other party seem to attract a certain kind of supporter who is totally one-eyed in their belief that their party is intellectually and morally superior to all other parties and that anyone who cannot see this has something wrong with them. This kind of supporter does not do their party any favours.

    2. “...the Greens more than any other party seem to attract a certain kind of supporter who is totally one-eyed in their belief that their party is intellectually and morally superior to all other parties and that anyone who cannot see this has something wrong with them...”

      Are you aware of the peer reviewed & polling research on IQ, education, brain composition & it’s correlation to political ideology?

    3. I have seen some now and then but it's not really all that relevant to my statement. Neither higher than average intelligence nor higher than average education (both of which I'd say Greens supporters do possess on average) seem to be antidotes to the attitude I mentioned.

    4. The reason it occurs, Kevin, is because people of higher intelligence get frustrated with the of the position/worldview of those of more ‘simplistic’ bent. The greater the disparity in ideology, the greater the frustration (eg Greens cf. One Nation).
      When you repeatedly see & hear oversimplification of issues, it eventually gets to you. There is also quite a bit of psychological research to show that people are impervious to facts & actually become more stubborn to accepting facts the more confronting they are (eg: Conservatives & anthropogenic global warming).
      So what does a Greens voter do when a person is simplistic & they are impervious to facts? Eventually, to deal with the frustration, one must ‘self soothe’. This self soothing ‘resolution’ comes in the form of being “intellectually & morally superior” & switching off, so to speak.
      I am more blunt about it - I choose not to “throw my pearls to pigs”

    5. In my experience the Australian Greens supporter base is divided between environmentalists who have been in the party from it's foundation and people who used to be on the left wing of the Labor Party. The Greens aren't the only party to have such a diverse supporter base, both the Liberals and Labor do as well.

      Personally we need to move away from a two party system and have a multi-party system. Consisting on the right a National Party which becomes more a Socially Conservative than just a country Party appealing to people in provincial cities and the outer suburbs of major cities. The Liberal Party being more small 'l' than it is now and being more appealing to Middle Class voters in the major cities and Labor shifting leftwards to attract the supporters it has lost to the Australian Greens. The Greens would be reduced quite a fair bit, however it can re-ordinate into a more purely environmentalist party than it is currently.

    6. Hmmm, I've encountered plenty of imperviousness to facts and oversimplification in my time - a great deal of it from certain Greens supporters (especially in my Tasmanian Times days) and sometimes even the odd Greens MPs or two. So by this argument I would be compelled to "self soothe" and switch off in the same manner. I just don't accept that such a generalisation can apply universally.

      Also, findings about intelligence and qualification are only tendencies. (Ditto about links between religious belief and education levels.) It really should be obvious to intelligent people from all party backgrounds that not everyone supporting the major parties is stupid or incapable of a reasoned argument.

    7. No, but as someone who (I assume) has studied university level statistics, it’s about averages & trends. Of course not all One Nation voters are idiots & all Greens voters Einsteinian. But a major side effect of education is, one would hope, to develop critical thinking. You won’t get your PhD if you lack a logically constructed argument in your thesis. Hence, I think it’s fair to extrapolate that those of higher education would have developed better levels of critical thinking. Critical thinking takes effort - you need to join more cognitive dots. In my strong opinion, the Greens do not provide simple solutions to society’s struggles. They are anti-populist.
      FYI, 2013 Roy Morgan research looked at the top ten job types for Liberal, Labor & Greens Party voters. Only the Greens had voters within these top 10 jobs that required a PhD.
      Then there’s the 2013 research of over 13,000 scientists in the USA who held a PhD. The overwhelming percentage voted Progressive (left wing) or the party that has typically represented the progressive side (the Democrats)

  12. I believe Labour will win the by-election since the Greens margin of victory at the Northcote by-election last year was 5.6%. The state district of Northcote makes up less than half of the federal division of Batman. It was obvious that the Greens won all but one of the booths south of Bell street at the 2016 federal election that Northcote would be a seat the Greens would eventually win. However Labor win every booth North of Bell Street.

    A guy on the tallyroom blog did a rough estimate of the Greens having approximately 57.5% of the two party preferred vote in the booths comprising the state district of Northcote at the 2006 election. So if he is right Labor might actually get a slight swing towards them, especially given the Greens were at the top of the ballot at the Northcote by-election and Labor at the Batman by-election.

    1. At matching ordinary booths I get 58.9% in the 2016 Reps election vs 57.8% in the by-election, so a similar sort of comparison. Also the Greens' performance on other vote types (collectively) was worse at the by-election, probably because of the reduced scope for absent voting - so one might argue on that basis that Lonergan's 53-47 is about right. On the other hand, that contest was new candidate vs new candidate, whereas Batman is five times candidate vs new candidate from out of the electorate (albeit with a very high profile).

      It's interesting; a lot of people think the Greens are going to win easily but modelling based arguments can be made either way.

    2. I am predicting a Labor victory, however the margin will be a very slim one. A Greens victory is not out of the question, however the margin they win by will be very narrow. The strong Green booths south of bell street with cancelled by the strong Labor ones North of Bell street. Batman is an electorate that goes deep into the migrant heavy Northern suburbs (right up nearly to Thomastown in the North) of Melbourne.

      It is notable at the last federal election Bhathal (4th) was ahead of Feeney (7th) on the Ballot paper. While at this by-election Kearney (2nd) is ahead of Bhathal (3rd). I believe there is a good chance the donkey vote will decide who wins the by-election. It was notable that Linda Thorpe (3rd) was ahead on the ballot paper for the Northcote by-election ahead of Clare Burns (9th).

      Anyway Batman is a lot like Wills, the Greens could win both in the future, especially if gentrification gradually proceeds further northwards beyond Bell Street in both electorates. However I believe Melbourne Ports is the next seat the Greens will win, if say a redistribution this year removes the Northern half of Caulfield from Melbourne Ports and the South Yarra-Prahran area is added then it is possible the Greens could win it. Adding that area will increase the Greens vote enough, while Labor's vote won't increase from it. In the 2016 Labor only lead the Greens on the primary vote by 3.21%, a redisturbtion like that would make both parties at least notionally equal on the primary votes.

    3. The result in Melbourne Ports at the 2016 was extremely close. Because if the Green candidate Steph Hodgins-May had won an extra 477 votes at the last election, she would have edged Michael Danby out of second place and if the Labor preferences flowed like they did in the neighbouring electorate of Higgins. The Greens would have won Melbourne Ports by 3000 votes.

      Melbourne Ports is more like Melbourne being almost completely gentrified as opposed to Batman and Wills which are only half so.

    4. These days the donkey vote is not worth much - half a percent in most seats if that. Still, better to have it than not have it.

    5. I agree with your assessments. However in a by-election this close, there is a chance it could decide the by-election.

  13. OK, so here’s why think the Greens will have a big win. And, yes, OK, if the ALP get over the line, or it’s close, you can have a good laugh at my expense….
    (1) The Greens topped first preferences at the last election. Running the same candidate, who is local and very well-known, and has made almost no mistakes, there are very few reasons for previous Green voters to shift their votes.
    (2) Some ALP voters at the last election may have voted as they did to ensure the Libs did not win. This is not a possibility this time, as the Libs are not running a candidate. Some, perhaps as many as 10%, could be expected to drift to the Greens.
    (3) The backflipping by the ALP re the Carmichael mine cannot possibly have helped their vote, and may well have harmed it.
    (4) All Liberal voters at the last election are forced with a choice. Sure, some will vote for the Australian Conservatives, but the important point is whether they then direct their preference to an ALP-ACTU candidate brought in from outside, or a local Greens candidate. I would expect 60-40 or thereabouts to the Greens.
    (5) Of the six minor party candidates, I would expect a 65-35 split in preferences to the Greens - ALP.
    (6) Since the last election, there has been a significant churn of residents, with many existing locals moving out of the area for various reasons, and an influx of younger voters, who are much more likely to vote Green.
    Yup, big win for the Green’s candidate…

    1. OK, so this is exactly why Dr Kevin Bonham is employed, and I am not.... :-)

  14. I first heard that Batman had a namesake city in Turkey in the 1990s, when I lived in Batman and a local Turk told me. A claim has been made on Facebook that the Mayor of Batman in Turkey objected to the use of the name in Australia, for he is of the opinion that it gives his city a bad name, for the John Batman it is named after died from syphilis, apart from his other misdeeds. The ultra-left on the Northcote Council, located within Batman, tried to change the name of a Batman Park in Northcote in the 1980s because it offended local Aborigines. Bruce Ruxton, high-profile Victorian RSL President complained, as did the local Lions Club, and the proposal was scrapped. Bruce Ruxton is no longer with us, and a new Darebin Council, for the Northcote Council hasn't existed since Jeff Kennett abolished it in 1994, is controlled by the Greens and they are doing what the ultra-left ALP Northcote Council couldn't. Batman Park is being re-named and no doubt the Mayor of Batman in Turkey, as well as local Aborigines, are happy. This time the Northcote Lions Club, supposed to be non-political, raised no objection. Alex Bhathal is facing opposition within her own party, mainly from Greens Darebin Councillors I understand who think the Greens should have picked one of their own. The ALP used to carry on like this in the area, so it's nothing new. The ALP Councillors were often up themselves, but there are not many in the area now. The Greens have to be favourites, with no Liberal candidate. Cory's candidate, backed by my namesake Lyle Shelton, formerly of the Australian Christian Lobby, is giving his preferences to the ALP. It remains to be seen how many votes he gets but he doesn't have the same profile as the candidates from the ALP and the Greens.