Batman by-election, candidate responses

Ahead of the Batman by-election taking place on Saturday 17 March 2018, the Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar wrote to all 10 candidates seeking to represent the electorate, to ask what they would do as a Member of Parliament to help La Trobe realise our Melbourne (Bundoora) Campus Masterplan, and deliver on our mission (advancing knowledge and learning to shape the future of our students and communities) and vision (to promote positive change and address the major issues of our time through being connected, inclusive and excellent).

Responses received:

Ged Kearney, Australian Labor Party

I am delighted to join the Shadow Assistant Minister for Universities, Terri Butler, in confirming Labor’s in-principle support for La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus master plan.

Unlike the Turnbull Government, Labor believes the Commonwealth should be partners with universities to boost opportunity for Australians and the local community. Labor supports La Trobe’s vision to create a university town in Melbourne’s north.

La Trobe is a major focus of economic development and employment in Melbourne’s north. A thriving La Trobe is essential for the regional economy. Much of the master plan calls for co-ordinated actions between the university and all levels of government.

Because of the significance and ambitions of the plan, it would be appropriate for the Commonwealth to take the initiative in working with La Trobe on its implementation. Labor has a proud record in higher education. When we were last in office we increased funding for universities from $8 billion to $14 billion each year, and introduced the demand-driven funding system which saw an additional 190,000 students get a place at university. Many of those students were the first in their family to go to university.

At Christmas, the Turnbull Government froze university grants, effectively ending demand-driven funding. Labor has consistently fought the Liberals’ cuts to universities. They’ve effectively reintroduced caps to universities which will mean universities in the outer suburbs and regions will be hit the hardest.

They’ve cut equity and participation funding.

And they continue to try to abolish the highly successful Education Investment Fund (EIF), which funded transformative infrastructure like La Trobe’s Institute for Molecular Science. With the recent $2.2 billion in cuts, and plans to abolish EIF, La Trobe will find it harder to deliver their master plan.

It’s bad for students and it’s bad for local job creation. But Labor will not let the Government’s cuts block the university’s vision for the future of the Bundoora campus.

As MP for Batman I would advocate strongly for Commonwealth resources to be committed across a range of portfolios to ensure La Trobe’s success.

This would include:

  • Working with all levels of government to provide the necessary investment in transport, the built environment and the natural environment.
  • Removing regulatory impediments to implementation of the master plan.
  • Attracting commercial and industrial investment to the university.
  • Mobilising resources for teaching and research. This will not only be in lecture halls and laboratories, but through resources such as the new Sports Centre development, which will provide crucial cultural infrastructure for the entire community.

Labor has already announced that in government it will fund development of a pilot STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Innovation Centre at the Northern College of the Arts and Technology, in the heart of Batman.

If I am elected MP for Batman, I would work tirelessly to ensure our educational institutions, especially La Trobe University, continue to provide opportunity and shape the future economy of Melbourne’s north.


La Trobe University warmly welcomes Ms Kearney’s support in our continuing focus to deliver jobs, skills and economic development for Melbourne’s North and beyond. We seek to offer an outstanding student experience, ensure our graduates are career-ready, build on research excellence, and be the partner of choice for industry, education and the community.

Debbie Robinson, Australian Liberty Alliance

Thank you for your invitation. However, I have already declared my support for the local citizen's initiative opposing parts of La Trobe's 'masterplan', in particular, the proposed conversion of the golf course into a residential development.


The Strathallan Golf Course Site is not included in the Melbourne Masterplan. Pursuant to Darebin Council resolutions regarding the future of the site, La Trobe has offered to sell the site to the City of Darebin, but has yet to receive a formal response to this offer. In the meantime, community consultations on the future of the site have been paused, and a temporary extension on the lease of the golf course has been offered to the Strathallan Golf Club.

Teresa van Leishout, Independent

As an experienced Australian born Teacher & published writer/researcher myself, I'm a great supporter of Australian Tertiary Education provision.

However, I'm very concerned regarding what I consider to be regressive developments in Tertiary education over the past 20 years to today, specifically, the limited proportion of Australian born students who access tertiary education, and the federal increase in student fees. I consider current & past federal politicians to be treasonous & greedy in regards to aspects of tertiary education provision, with our own people languishing in lower levels of education, unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, forced govt drugging, & govt driven suicide. As per point 4 on my party website I will continue to publically promote for 80%+ of Tertiary education students places be Australian born citizens, and for university fees to be capped across all courses, Australia wide, and federal tertiary education funding to be provided on that basis.

Furthermore, particularly in regards to your university, I have received written complaints from three community groups, regarding your refusal to meet with them to discuss your ambitious university 'masterplans' impact on residents & local amenity access for residents in the area. Specifically, the Save Strathallan Open Space Community Coalition, the Strathallan Golf Course, and the Springthorpe Residents Association. I've made a public commitment to those community groups and residents to publically promote the blocking of federal funds to your university until you meet with them to resolve the issues. It is morally wrong for politicians, govt, & corporate organisations to 'bully' community groups & residents, when they live & work in the area. It's always best to be open & transparent regarding issues & discussions, to ameliorate successful solutions. Your university management may think you don't have to meet with those groups to resolve these issues on account I'm 'not going to win the seat', however, that's not relevant to me, as I've made these & other issues public, so I've already won.


The Strathallan Golf Course Site is not included in the Melbourne Masterplan. Pursuant to Darebin Council resolutions regarding the future of the site, La Trobe has offered to sell the site to the City of Darebin, but has yet to receive a formal response to this offer. In the meantime, community consultations on the future of the site have been paused, and a temporary extension on the lease of the golf course has been offered to the Strathallan Golf Club.