News National Greens leadership safe despite Batman loss

Greens leadership safe despite Batman loss

Richard di Natale (L) on a grim night for the Greens. Photo: AAP
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Richard Di Natale is “safe” as Greens leader, but one of his senators says he needs to step up to make sure the party wins seats at the next election.

Federal Greens also say infighting played a “big role” in its failure to win a second lower house seat in the Batman by-election on the weekend.

Former ACTU boss Ged Kearney defeated bookmakers’ favourite Alex Bhathal on Saturday night to leave the seat once again in Labor hands.

Senator Di Natale was asked if he would resign over the loss and he said “no” – a stance supported by SA Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

“Richard Di Natale’s leadership is safe and we need him now, we need him to step up and make sure the party is pulled together tightly,” Senator Hanson-Young told Sky News on Monday.

“Many of us here in Canberra are up for re-election … we need Richard fighting for us and leading us strongly.”

Senator Di Natale blamed Labor’s campaign machine and internal Green leaks for the loss of Batman, in Melbourne’s inner north.

“We had a big Labor machine against us, corporate money, the significant support of the union movement – it was always going to be tough,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

It’s very difficult to run a campaign when you’re not just fighting a machine like that, but you’re also fighting some of your own people.”

Ms Bhathal’s campaign for the marginal seat was rattled when a number of her branch members leaked details of bullying complaints against her.

She denies the allegations and an internal review is underway into how the leak occurred.

“Those people who are found to be responsible for leaking and undermining our candidate need to be expelled,” Senator Di Natale said.

Deputy Greens leader Adam Bandt, who holds the seat of Melbourne, said the infighting “played a big role”.

“I don’t think people like political parties doing that sort of stuff generally, certainly not doing it during an election campaign,” he told ABC radio.

Mr Bandt “took his hat off” to Ms Bhathal for turning Batman into a marginal seat, promising to back her if she wanted to run for a seventh time.

The Liberal Party did not run a candidate in the by-election, which was called after sitting Labor MP David Feeney resigned over his dual citizenship.