Batman Greens hit by fresh sabotage attempts
By Noel TowellUpdated9 March 2018 — 4:43pmfirst published at 12:35pm
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The Greens push to capture the federal seat of Batman has been hit by more internal sabotage attempts.
Two separate and fresh leaks by disgruntled Greens about the alleged conduct of their candidate Alex Bhathal have again forced the campaign onto the defensive.
ABC radio aired on Friday morning what it says are fresh allegations of "intimidation, manipulation, harassment and misconduct" against Greens candidate Ms Bhathal.
The party was then forced to deny that Ms Bhathal will go into next week's byelection for the northern Melbourne seat facing calls from fellow Greens for her expulsion or suspension from the party.
The leaking of the alleged complaint follows another attempt to damage Ms Bhathal from within – with details supplied to the ABC and reported on Thursday – of her role in internal party disputes going back five years.
A small but influential group of Ms Bhathal's fellow Darebin Branch members want the candidate dumped and internal strife has dogged the campaign from the start.
The party said a complaint by Darebin members about Ms Bhathal's conduct had been dealt with and the allegations of bullying and branch stacking had not been substantiated.
But ABC radio claimed on Friday that a fresh complaint had been lodged and would be dealt with after the March 17 byelection, which the Greens say is not correct.
Ms Bhathal told Sky News on Friday that she was only aware of one complaint against her and that it had already been dealt with.
"That matter was dealt with through a robust internal process of the party," she said.
"I was cleared to run in the byelection, which I am doing and I am honoured to have the overwhelming support of my branch, which I've always enjoyed, the overwhelming support of my party and of all of our MPs at state and federal level."
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale spoke on Friday of his frustration at the sabotage of Ms Bhathal's campaign from within his own party.
“It’s disappointing that a small number of people who disagree with the outcome of a democratic, grassroots preselection process are undermining the chances of electing a strong, progressive woman in Batman,” Senator Di Natale said.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, campaigning in Batman on Friday with his party's candidate Ged Kearney, seized on the latest Greens leaks.
"It's very clear during this campaign that you have Greens party members, not just supporters, who are refusing to support their candidate who has been imposed in this byelection and that should be of real concern," Mr Albanese said.
"You have on the one hand a candidate who doesn't have the support of members of her own party and is subject to ongoing complaints, who may well be expelled or suspended from the Greens political party after this byelection is over.
"On the other hand you have Ged Kearney, someone whose record is out there for all to see, over decades in a transparent manner."
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Noel Towell is State Political Editor for The Age
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