From shisha-lounge to coffee lab, to the corridors of powerlessness in Canberra, the word is that David Feeney, member for Batman, is resigning today, and will be making a press statement around 2pm (though he may go earlier, to annoy us).

Crikey understands that Feeney’s electorate office in Batman, in Melbourne’s inner north, was notified two days ago of his intention to quit, and that they are already on a war footing for preselection and byelection.

Within the party, furious discussions are taking place about how a new candidate will be preselected, with the word out that the Left are not willing to accept a Right lock on the seat, after the disastrous performance of Right-selected candidate Clare Burns in the state seat of Northcote, which saw a 12% swing to the Greens, electing Lidia Thorpe.

David’s Feeney’s auto-defenestration comes at a time when the Batman area — covering the Northcote/Preston/Clifton Hill Green-Labor battlegrounds — is being riven by a brutal intra-Right war between the rebel “Somyurek” faction — with whom failed candidate Clare Burns was aligned — and the mainstream Right attached to the state Labor’s Right-Left “stability pact” (two words, two lies).

Labor’s selection for Northcote was hampered by the fact — in the words of someone close to former Batman member Labor legend Brian Howe — that “no one good wanted the gig”, seeing it as a slam-dunk loss. Talk is of ACTU apparatchik Ged Kearney running for the seat. This would be a better fit for lefty Batman than the socially conservative anti-abortion candidate Clare Burns — but it would still be an uninspiring machine politician, with a whiff of careerism about it, as Kearney has been angling for a state seat for the past two years.

Will the battle of Batman see the same one-sided contest as Northcote? As we noted yesterday, the Greens are not without their internal troubles there too.

But the Feeney-fade may well focus both parties on actually fighting each other, rather than themselves. As for dear David? What does an ex-minister for defence support possibly do after politics? Who would possibly employ him — what vast conglomerate of lethal industries — as his party stands on the edge of national power?

Sic transit Grouper Muddly …

Peter Fray

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