Former ACTU president Ged Kearney was on track to defeat the Greens’ Alex Bhathal, with the ALP winning back voters from the Greens in the southern part of the electorate.
With more than half of the vote counted at 9pm AEDT, the ABC was predicting that Labor would retain the seat .
There has been no formal declaration but senior Labor figures are declaring a win.
And Greens leader Richard Di Natale has told the party faithful the Greens are not going to get over the line in Batman.
He blamed preference deals between Labor and hard-right parties.
“It’s been a very, very tight run race. But it looks like because of the preferences of all the hard-right parties and [Australian Conservatives leader] Cory Bernardi, Rise Up Australia that we’re just going to fall short tonight,” Senator Di Natale said.
Senator Di Natale and Ms Bhathal congratulated Ms Kearney.
“Obviously it’s not the result that any of us would have wanted,” Ms Bhathal said.
“I first want to congratulate Ged Kearney. It’s been an honour to have contested this seat against her.”
“Many people have said over the course of this campaign that regardless of the outcome we’ll have a strong, progressive woman representing us in this seat. And I wish Ged all the very best in Canberra.”
It was Ms Bhathal’s sixth attempt to win the seat and she entered the by-election needing just a 1 per cent swing to knock Labor off.
But the Greens campaign was dogged by internal leaks, including the release of a 101-page dossier of complaints from branch members against Ms Bhathal, some calling for expulsion over bullying and branch-stacking allegations.
Equally, Labor has had to fight a campaign on national issues that have wedged it, including stopping the Adani mine and the treatment of refugees.
More to come.