The Division of Batman (Vic) in the House of Representatives
The by-election was called as a result of the resignation on 1 February 2018 of David Feeney, the incumbent backbench Australian Labor Party MP. The ALP candidate, Ged Kearney, won the by-election.
On 6 December 2017, amidst the ongoing citizenship crisis engulfing several MPs, Labor MP David Feeney revealed that he was unable to produce documentation confirming he had renounced citizenship of either the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland. Consequently, Feeney voluntarily referred himself to the High Court of Australia, considering his likely breach of Section 44 of the Constitution of Australia. By 19 January 2018, Feeney remained unable to produce any documentary evidence from British or Irish authorities that he took steps to renounce his citizenship and entitlements, and the High Court granted him an extension to 1 February to allow his legal team to continue their search for the relevant documents. At a press conference on 1 February 2018, Feeney announced he would resign from the seat and from politics effective immediately, choosing not to stand as a candidate at the by-election. The date for the by-election was set at 17 March 2018, the same day as the South Australian state election.
The seat was fought by the incumbent Labor Party and the Greens, who received a 9.6% swing towards them in the previous election. Despite finishing first in the primary vote, Greens' candidate Alex Bhathal was defeated by Feeney on the two-candidate-preferred vote 51%-49% at the previous election. Feeney had held the seat for the Labor Party since 2013. It was the sixth time Bhathal had contested the seat, having previously run in 2001, 2004, 2010, 2013 and 2016. The Australian Electoral Commission confirmed that 111,857 people were enrolled to vote in the by-election.
Key dates in relation to the by-election are:
|Candidates in ballot paper order|
|Rise Up||Yvonne Gentle||Gentle is the National Secretary of Rise Up Australia and was the party's federal candidate for Dunkley in 2013 and Flinders in 2016.|
|Labor||Ged Kearney||On 2 February 2018, Labor leader Bill Shorten formally announced that Ged Kearney, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), was Labor's candidate at the by-election. Kearney had previously been pre-selected for the state seat of Brunswick at the 2018 state election, but resigned from the candidacy to contest Batman.|
|Greens||Alex Bhathal||Greens leader Richard Di Natale confirmed to Guardian Australia that Alex Bhathal would run for the seat as the Greens' candidate. Bhathal has been the Greens' candidate for the seat and lost 6 times and 5 times for nearby seats, and is a former social worker who has sat on the Darebin Ethnic Communities Council.|
|Conservatives||Kevin Bailey||Australian Conservatives director Lyle Shelton announced that Kevin Bailey, a businessman and former SAS soldier, was the party's candidate at the by-election.|
|People's||Tegan Burns||Burns is not believed to have run for office before and was described by the party as "highly passionate about youth and the criminal justice system".|
|Liberty Alliance||Debbie Robinson||Robinson is the president of the Australian Liberty Alliance and was the party's lead candidate for the Senate in Western Australia in 2016.|
|Independent||Teresa van Lieshout||Perennial candidate for eight state and federal elections, most recently the Canning by-election in 2015, Van Lieshout is a teacher and self-published author on social, theological and political issues.|
|Adrian Whitehead||Whitehead is an environmentalist and the founder of the unregistered Save the Planet Party. He previously contested Corangamite at the 2013 federal election.|
|#Sustainable||Mark McDonald||McDonald is an IT engineer and lives in Preston.|
|Animal Justice||Miranda Smith||Smith previously contested the seat of Melbourne at the 2016 federal election.|
|Animal Justice||Miranda Smith||2,528||2.96||+1.29|
|Rise Up Australia||Yvonne Gentle||2,217||2.60||+2.60|
|Independent||Teresa van Lieshout||1,245||1.46||+1.46|
|Liberty Alliance||Debbie Robinson||1,186||1.39||+1.39|
|Sustainable Australia||Mark McDonald||951||1.11||+1.11|
|People's Party||Tegan Burns||496||0.58||+0.58|
|Total formal votes||85,404||93.79||+1.57|
|Date||Firm||Sample||Primary vote||TPP vote|
|18–20 Feb 2018||Lonergan Research||693||40%||39%||16%||53%||47%|
Alex Bhathal, who Greens leader Richard Di Natale confirmed on Friday would recontest the seat, was 1.03%, or just 1,853 votes, shy of Labor in 2016.