Political scientist predicts ALP will hang on in Cooper


Cost of living and public school funding are issues of concern in Cooper. Photo: Ally Galletti

The “battle for Bell Street” will see Labor and the Greens duke it out in the diverse, inner city seat of Cooper – and political scientist Andrea Carson predicts the ALP will hold on to the seat in the upcoming election.

Labor candidate Ged Kearney became the federal Member of Cooper, which was formerly known as Batman, at a by-election in 2018.

“Ged Kearney is the ideal candidate for that demographic – before the redistribution when it was Batman she won that seat more comfortably than was predicted,” Associate Professor Carson told the Junction.

“She has not done a disservice to the community serving as the federal member, so I think she will hold the seat and probably increase the margin.”

Kearney won the 2018 by-election 54 to 46 percent, with a 3.4 percent swing towards Labor.

The ABC had predicted that the Greens would win the seat.

According to the latest Newspoll in the Australian newspaper, Labor lead the Greens by 0.6 percent.

The Greens have chosen newcomer David Risstrom as their candidate for Cooper.

This comes after controversy plagued the Greens in the seat.

In 2019 Greens Candidate Alex Bhathal resigned after losing her sixth consecutive election.

She cited bullying as the major factor in her resignation and released a statement explaining why she was leaving the Greens.

“For approximately five years now, I have been subject to relentless organisational bullying within the Greens which has included rumour-mongering, unfounded attacks on my character and being reportedly forced to respond to trivial or unsubstantiated complaints and unfair charges,” she said.

The Age has reported that four Greens councillors including former Darebin mayor Kim Le Cerf tried to have Bhathal replaced before the 2018 by-election.

Political scientist Dr Andrea Carson

Dr Carson said infighting within the Greens should have an impact on voters in Cooper, but she is unsure about the extent of that impact.

“It might have some effect – there have some high-profile resignations in the Greens in the state parliament, but I know how closely the average voter will be watching the infighting and difficulties that will have been going on the party,” she said.

Climate change is seen as one of the biggest issues in the upcoming federal election.

On 1 April 2019 Labor released their climate change policy, which included reducing Australia`s pollution levels by 45 percent by 2030, and a target of 50 percent of all new car sales in 2030 being that of electric cars.

The Greens released their climate change policy on 17 April, including phasing out coal stations and legislating against new coal mines, as well as aiming for a target of 100 percent renewable energy.

Dr Carson says voters that care about climate change will vote Labor.

“I think it (climate change) will be one of the most important issues but Labor have been stronger on that than they have in the past,” she said.

“With Ged Kearney articulating their policy position those who care about climate change will probably stay with Labor.”

Helen Jackson was announced as the Liberal candidate for Cooper but was asked to resign due to section 44 of the constitution, which lists grounds for disqualification for federal election candidates.

Jackson is an employee of Australia Post, and working as a public servant will compromise a person’s eligibility to run for the House of Representatives.

As of 18 April 2019, the Liberal Party do not have a candidate for Cooper.

This will be the first election in which the seat will be known as Cooper, having previously been called Batman since 1906.

The electorate was re-named after Indigenous campaigner William Cooper and covers the inner northern Melbourne suburbs of Fairfield, Northcote, Thornbury, Preston, Reservoir and Kingsbury.

Australia goes to the polls on 18 May 2019.