Ever since the seat of Batman was created it has been a safe Labor seat. In 2013, David Feeney made the transition from the Senate to the House of Representatives to take the seat over.
Batman, which stretches from Clifton Hill in the south to Thomastown in the north and includes Fairfield, Northcote and La Trobe University has historical been a solid North Melbourne, working class Labor seat. This seat has been the home of Labor luminaries such as Martin Ferguson was at one stage the safest seat for Labor in Australia. However, it has seen its primary vote slip to the Greens over the years and now they clearly have the Liberals in third (the Liberals haven't outpolled the Greens on primaries since 2007).
The below chart from the ABC's Anthony Green shows the primary vote trends from 1983 to now with the vertical lines representing the points where the seat has been redistributed.
In 2010, the Liberal Party recommended preferences for the Greens, and preference flows were 19.1% to Labor and 80.9% to the Greens. With the reversal of the Liberal preference recommendation in 2013, Liberal preferences flowed 67.4% to Labor and 32.6% to the Greens.
If the 2010 flows had applied at the 2013 election, then the Greens would have won Batman with a margin of 0.2% versus Labor. In other words, if the Liberals are ever going to be competitive, they need preferences to get above the Greens.
As you can see below from the last 4 primary vote tables from Batman, the Liberals have lost their second place to the Greens and the right wing minor parties have either not participated or polled badly in the stopping of the rise of the Greens.
Considering the blue collar, working class nature of the seat; we believe that there is a lot more then miserable 5.05% of the primary vote the right wing minor parties collected in 2013 (not including the Sex Party and Animal Rights Party results).
Irrespective of where the Liberal votes goes in Batman, you can see from the above results, it will not crack 25% and it will not surpass the Greens. This isn't an electorate that is likely to respond to a Malcolm Turnbull lead Liberal Party and better then previous Liberal leaders in the opinion of the GravisPolitics team.
This can be seen by the 5-time Green candidate standing again with cash and organisation which she didn't have the first time she stood as a 'Tampa Green' for the seat in 2001.The Greens have mounted their biggest ever grassroots push for Batman with hundreds of volunteers doorknocking homes throughout the electorate. The Greens are now openly stating that they are aiming at the 'Whitlam Labor' migrant communities in the northern end of the seat to try and force them over the top of Labor.
However, both Labor and the Greens have problems in this campaign. Sitting MP David Feeney is in trouble for failing to move to the seat and failing to disclose his $2.3 Million home. Furthermore, his undeclared home was seen with a Green corflute in the lawn and the spectre of the Liberals returning to the 2010 policy of preferencing the Greens has spelt problems for Labor in the seat.
The Greens also have their own problems. After the Greens went on the attack over the Feeney undeclared home, it was revealed that the Di Natale family farm wasn't declared either. Furthermore, after bringing the issue of penalty rates and fair pay into the election by trying to wedge Labor on its left; The Age just revealed his family paid au pairs $150 a week in 2012; adjusted to the typical 40-hour work week, that ends up at $3.75 an hour.
Therefore, with issues facing the Liberals, Labor and the Greens in the seat; we feel at GravisPolitics that the right campaign from the appropriate right-wing minor party that embraces the diversity, working-class nature and history of the seat can put themselves in a position to not only decide the outcome of the seat but become very important in terms of how the dynamic of Labor-Green races play out (and potentially could halt the rise of the Greens, or, with a piece of mathematical luck, see an unlikely rise of the Liberals).
Food for though atleast for right wing minor parties looking to upset the inner city Labor v Greens applecarts here and in other target seats in NSW and Victoria.