Alex Bhathal [is] a fantastic conviction candidate, a Tampa Green… she’s run five times for that seat, [is] very well known and active in the electorate, and very impressive to meet.
Radio National Late Night Live
by Richard Willingham
Batman has a strong multicultural history and community and Ms Bhathal said the reaction among locals to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s comments about illiterate refugees taking Australian jobs was outrage.
“Whether I’m speaking to senior citizens in north-west Reservoir, Italians, or whether I’m speaking to Greek gentlemen in cafes or hipsters, it [immigration and multiculturalism] is absolutely core value for people in this electorate,
“We are not living here because of the beautiful surrounds, the beachfront, we are here because of the people, they really value diversity.”
Sydney Morning Herald
“We’re getting overwhelmed with messages of support, and they’re coming from people who we traditionally wouldn’t see as Greens voters, including elderly Italians who are phoning us for the first time, and from people in the North of the seat.”
The Conversation Podcast with Michelle Grattan
The 51-year-old social worker and refugee advocate is a long-time local resident. Forget the innuendo about the perpetual candidate: standing for election five times over 15 years for no reward takes an enormous commitment. In Bhathal’s case, that comes from a fury at Labor that goes back to its introduction of mandatory detention for asylum seekers in 1992.
“I joined [the Greens] in August 2001,” recalled Bhathal. “I remember the moment. I paid my membership the next day. I was sitting on the couch in my lounge room in Preston, and I was breastfeeding my oldest son … and the footage came on of the 438 men who were lying on the open deck of the MV Tampa, the container ship, and some of them were unconscious, they were in a terrible state, they were literally caught in a life or death situation by the Howard government, which had the full complicity of Kim Beazley and the ALP. So I saw that footage and I was horrified. Immediately there was an interview, between Kerry O’Brien, I think, and Dr Bob Brown, the leader of the Australian Greens, and Bob stood up for the Australia that I believed in, and that I thought I belonged to.”
Bhathal was quickly drafted into preselection, stood three months later, and tripled the vote. Ever since, she’s been on a mission, fuelled partly by the Sikhism that has made her a target for racist attacks. Carrying the hopes of the Greens nationally, and with 6000 volunteers helping out in a mammoth effort, Bhathal gave it everything.