David Feeney

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The Honourable
David Feeney
Member of the Australian Parliament for Batman
Assumed office
7 September 2013
Preceded by Martin Ferguson
Senator for Victoria
In office
1 July 2008 – 12 August 2013
Personal details
Born (1970-03-05) 5 March 1970 (age 47)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Liberty Sanger
Children 1
Alma mater Monash University
Occupation Politician

David Ian Feeney (born 5 March 1970) is an Australian politician. He is the Labor member for the House of Representatives seat of Batman, which he won at the 2013 federal election. He was previously a Labor Senator for Victoria from 2008 to 2013. From 2010 to 2013, Feeney was Parliamentary Secretary for Defence.

Background and early career[edit]

Feeney was born in Adelaide. His father migrated from Northern Ireland. Raised Catholic, he attended Mercedes College, Adelaide before moving to Melbourne, where he attended Monash University, gaining a master's degree in Public Policy.[1]

He worked in the national office of the Transport Workers Union, and for Ian Baker, a Labor member of the Victorian Parliament. Feeney is a prominent member of the right-wing Labor Unity faction[2] and is linked with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA).[3] Feeney served as Victorian State Secretary of the Labor Party and State Labor Campaign Director from March 1999 to December 2002, where he enjoyed considerable success as a fund-raiser and campaign director.[4] Despite this, he was dismissed in 2002 as a result of a change in factional alignments within the party.

Feeney then worked for the Labor Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, as Director of Strategy, and was the Campaign Director for Labor during the 2006 South Australian state election.[5] The re-elected Labor Premier, Mike Rann, referred to him in his victory speech as "my Eisenhower." During the 2007 federal election campaign Feeney was Labor's Assistant National Secretary, in charge of marginal seat campaigning. In December 2006 he supported Kevin Rudd's successful challenge to the leadership of Kim Beazley.

Political career[edit]


In March 2006 Feeney was endorsed as a Labor candidate for the Australian Senate from Victoria for the 2007 federal election. It was initially expected that he would succeed Robert Ray as the lead Labor Senate candidate, but as a result of factional agreements involving the SDA this position went to former Senator Jacinta Collins, and Feeney was given the third position on the Labor ticket, which he narrowly won, ahead of the Australian Greens candidate.

Feeney took his Senate seat on 1 July 2008. In 2010, as the Rudd government declined in opinion polls, Feeney was one of the factional leaders, along with Mark Arbib, Don Farrell and Bill Shorten, involved in the replacement of Rudd as leader of the Labor Party and Prime Minister by Julia Gillard. It was Arbib and Feeney who persuaded Gillard to agree to challenge Rudd for the Labor leadership. This group became known in the media as "the faceless men." At the 2010 federal election Labor narrowly retained government with the support of the Greens and independent members. On 14 September 2010, Feeney was sworn in as Parliamentary Secretary for Defence in the First Gillard Ministry and was reappointed to this role in the Second Gillard Ministry. Despite his role in deposing Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister in 2010, he retained his position when Rudd regained the prime ministership in June 2013.

Feeney faced re-election to the Senate at the 2013 federal election. Given that Labor won only two Senate seats in Victoria at the 2010 election, it was considered unlikely that Feeney could be re-elected in 2013 as the number three candidate.[6] During 2012 an agreement was reached among the factions in the Victorian Labor Party that would allow Feeney to transfer to a winnable seat in the House of Representatives.[7] On 12 August 2013, Feeney resigned from the Senate to contest Batman at 7 September election.[8]

House of Representatives[edit]

In May 2013, Feeney announced that he would be nominating for Labor preselection for Batman,[9] then considered a safe Labor seat in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Batman had been held since 1996 by former minister Martin Ferguson who retired from politics at the 2013 election. There was immediate speculation that Feeney would be opposed by ACTU President Ged Kearney,[9] a member of the Left faction of the Victorian ALP. On 1 June, however, Kearney announced she would not be a candidate.[10] On 2 June, two other candidates, Mary-Anne Thomas and Hatice Hussein, announced that they would contest the preselection. Thomas was immediately supported by figures from the left such as Jenny Macklin. Feeney gained support from Gillard, Ferguson and senior minister Bill Shorten.[11] On 1 July, Feeney won the Batman preselection beating Mary-Anne Thomas, 383 votes to 287.

Feeney was elected the member for Batman at the election. He was one of three people who made the successful transition from the Senate to the House of Representatives, the others being his ALP colleague Matt Thistlethwaite in Kingsford-Smith and former Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce in New England.

He does not live in his electorate but in neighbouring Melbourne.[12]

Feeney's term as Parliamentary Secretary for Defence ended on 18 September when Tony Abbott's Coalition government took office. He was then elected to the Opposition front bench. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten appointed him Shadow Minister for Justice and Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence. In July 2014, following the end of Senator Don Farrell's term, Feeney also became Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs. Following the 2016 federal election, he was dropped from the Opposition Shadow Ministry.

Failure to registry property[edit]

David Feeney's $2.3 million house not declared on his parliamentary register of interests

In May 2016, during the Australian federal election, it was revealed that Feeney had a $2.3m investment property that he had not placed on the parliamentary register of interests. Feeney's explanation for the oversight was a "maelstrom of events" including Christmas.[13]

Factors making the non declaration controversial were the Labor party's stance on negative gearing (as the property was); the number of negatively geared properties held in various vehicles by Feeney and his wife; Feeney's apparent disengagement with his substantial holdings; and the location of the property - within the electorate he represents, while his residence was outside it.[14][13]

After the arrangements were publicised, the tenants of the property were convinced by campaign representatives of Feeney's political opponent to allow a placard on the property for the Greens candidate Alex Bhathal. [15]


Feeney is married to Liberty Sanger, principal of law firm Maurice Blackburn.[16] Their first child, Ned Sanger Feeney, was born in June 2014.[17]


  1. ^ Parliamentary Handbook of the Commonwealth of Australia, 32nd edition, page 98
  2. ^ Milne, Glenn (19 September 2009). "Rudd's 'f***ing' rant at factions". The Sunday Telegraph. Australia. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Why is the union that represents supermarket workers stopping gay marriage?: SMH 2 May 2015 Archived 13 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Insiders". National Office: Speeches & Opinion. Australian Workers Union. 9 June 2002. 
  5. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20060228235103/http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au:80/common/story_page/0,5744,18240493%255E28737,00.html. Archived from the original on 28 February 2006. Retrieved 10 March 2006.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Crook, Andrew (16 August 2011). "The link between the Thomson fiasco and Feeney's fading bid to hold his seat". Crikey. Private Media Pty Limited. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Ferguson, John (1 February 2012). "Victorian Unity faction to honour deal with Left". The Australian. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Labor's Feeney Resigns From Senate". Yahoo!7. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Labor's David Feeney confirms bid for Batman preselection, Ged Kearney tipped to nominate Archived 31 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine., Susan McDonald, ABC News Online, 31 May 2013
  10. ^ "ACTU boss Ged Kearney backs out of Batman battle with David Feeney". The Australian. 1 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Women challenge powerbroker David Feeney for prize Victorian seat of Batman". The Australian. 2 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "How local is local? The 12 MPs who don't live in the seats they're trying to win". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  13. ^ a b Davey, Melissa (18 May 2016). "Labor's David Feeney: I racked my mind about forgetting to declare $2.3m house". theguardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  14. ^ Binnie, Kerrin (19 May 2016). "Election 2016: Tenants renting David Feeney's home back Greens candidate". ABC News online. ABC. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  15. ^ James Massola; Nick Toscano; Richard Willingham (2016-05-16). "Election 2016: David Feeney's tenants turn on him to urge 'vote green'". The Age. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  16. ^ "Gillard delivers on a debt". The Australian. 4 June 2013. 
  17. ^ https://www.facebook.com/liberty.sanger[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]