Batchelor Chow – UPDATED

So former state Labor MP Peter Batchelor just threatened one of our volunteers and tore down our election signage, a somewhat unsubtle campaigning tactic that is also an offence under electoral law.

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Hooley dooley.

The whole fiasco ended up on The Age
, although they glossed over his aggressive and threatening behaviour to our poor volunteer, who was shaken up and in tears when we arrived.

Batchelor is an intriguing figure from the Victorian ALP Right who has form with dodgy election tactics, having produced and distributed  phoney how-to-vote cards purporting to be from the Nuclear Disarmament Party, back in the 1980s.


Similar activities over in Melbourne Ports have landed some other Key ALP Blokes in trouble with the 5-0 today. Apparently on election eve, senior ALP men all around Melbourne were forming up into what can only be described as clandestine vandal squads. These Raiders of the Lost Booth included David Asmar, a notorious Darebin ALP figure and branch stacker who somehow escaped the Royal Commission for his role in the Health Services Union scandal; and Andrew Landeryou, a Latham-lite blogger and Bill Shorten confidante who as I type has fallen off his hinges completely and is carrying on like a pork chop over on Twitter.

Vandalising and ripping down election signage is a continuing theme, but they also engaged in some motorised intimidation antics that bear an eerie reminiscence to The Cars That Ate Paris. Asmar, Landeryou and the other two thugs were closely involved in the campaign of the singularly noxious (imo) Michael Danby MP, who looks like he might just scrape through in Ports.

I’ve yet to hold forth on the Victorian ALP Right on this sadly neglected blog. I fully intend to do so, but in brief — and at the risk of tipping my partisan hand — the Old Boys of the ALP Right have Got to Go.


A Trajectory of Denial

I initially wrote this for Alex Bhathal’s Facebook page, and it’s been one of her most popular posts. It’s also shown me how much resistance there can be to making an honest reckoning with our history, despite being in so many ways haunted by it. Even today, making the simplest acknowledgement of this history goes too far for certain individuals, who become significantly bothered online.

We should remember that this electorate is named after John Batman, a man who committed horrific crimes against Aboriginal people as a ‘bounty hunter’ in Tasmania before coming to Melbourne. Batman ‘purchased’ the ancestral lands of what now makes up Melbourne’s north in a meeting on the banks of the Merri Creek in 1835. The So-Called ‘Batman Treaty’ was not a treaty at all, but handed across a few blankets, tomahawks and knives in a transaction that Wurundjeri Elders believed to be a gift in exchange for passage, called ‘tandarrum’.

Here, just like everywhere in Australia, a treaty or treaties with our first nations never took place, making Australia unique in the world. It is only right that our local Wurundjeri people are fighting to rename Batman Park in Northcote, as well as the federal electorate of Batman. I think it would be a simple sign of respect for the deceit of the meeting that day in 1835.

I was flabbergasted when this fairly faithful potted history brought one person to the most extraordinary revisionist contortions about John Batman, of the ‘he was not such a bad bloke after all’ variety.

Thankfully comments like these are largely self-moderating.

The original article about the Wurundjeri campaign can be found here.

Shorten’s childcare blooper

Shorten has defended his comments on childcare but he’s still looking silly in the media for making what is really quite a simple point.

Alongside wage disparity, women face the lingering expectation that they will perform free domestic labour. And if they do go back to paid work, they disproportionately bear the economic burden of childcare. It is the single biggest barrier for most women returning to work.

It’s why I think a properly subsidised childcare system is one of the most tangible ways we can address structural gender inequality in our society.

A Musing on Rusteds

rusted letterbox

In the campaign we talk about how the electorate of Batman has been ALP heartland for so long, voters have become rusted onto the party, stuck in place — ‘ALP rusteds’. There’s disdain in the phrase, but it’s also hard not to detect a certain wistfulness too, something I’ve often observed when people talk about class in Australia.

When Politicians evangelise about the decline of heavy industry, many do it by way conjuring up an idyllic time before — when working class men were rewarded for their labor with modestly paid but stable jobs that allowed them to provide for their families.

But hinting back to a lost egalitarian post-war period obscures a whole range of experiences. To whatever extent this reality ever existed for white working class men, it was at the expense of outsiders who were locked out of the economic system altogether.