Margin: Labor 26.0%
Location: Inner Northern Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: The safest Labor seat in Australia covers an area immediately north of inner city Melbourne, away from the predations of the Greens. Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has held the seat since 1996.
Electorate analysis: Covering Melbourne’s inner north-east, Batman has emerged from three successive elections as the safest Labor seat in Australia. The electorate extends from Northcote and Fairfield in the south through Thornbury, Preston and Reservoir to Bundoora, with the Merri and Darebin creeks forming most of the western and eastern boundaries. It has been a rock solid Labor seat since the party first won it in 1910, barring two interruptions: the United Australia Party carried it in the 1931 landslide, and Labor member Sam Benson was expelled from the party in 1966 over his support for the Vietnam war. Benson was re-elected as an independent at the 1966 election on DLP and Liberal preferences and retired in 1969. The last close result was in 1977 when future Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe retained the seat by 3.4 per cent upon his debut. It swung to Labor by 7.3 and 6.4 per cent at the next two elections, and was made 7.8 per cent safer by the redistribution in 1984.
The new member was Martin Ferguson, president of the ACTU since 1990, who with brother Laurie (former member for Reid, now moving to Werriwa) controlled of a major sub-faction of the Left. He immediately rose to the front bench after the 1996 election, variously serving in regional development, primary industries and transport while in opposition. In government he has been Resources and Energy Minister, securing him a particularly high profile during the mining tax debate.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.