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A Labor Politician Is Getting His Mum To Call Voters

Keepin it in the family.

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Embattled Labor MP David Feeney has recruited a surprise volunteer to convince voters to re-elect him on July 2.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

The opposition spokesman for veterans affairs has been missing in action this election campaign after a series of embarrassing gaffes.

First he failed to declare a $2.3 million negatively geared property. Then he couldn’t explain Labor’s policy on retaining the $4.5 billion Schoolkids bonus. And then he left a piece of paper with party talking points written on it in the Sky News studio after an interview.

Feeney was noticeably absent from Labor's official campaign launch in western Sydney over the weekend and has pulled out of a string of official functions during the past month.

Enter Feeney's secret weapon ... his mother!

Alan Porritt / AAPIMAGE

Feeney's mum, Margaret Varghese, has been cold-calling locals in the Melbourne seat of Batman, to convince them to vote for her son.

Belinda Davies from Northcote told BuzzFeed News she received a call last week from Varghese who identified herself upfront as "David Feeney’s mother".

Davies said the call was "very unusual" and Varghese was "quite pushy", especially when "she tried to convince me the Greens have sided with the Liberals and they’re going to cut Medicare".

"She really wanted to stay on the line and keep talking to me, she was insistent that the Labor party was the way to go in terms of keeping Medicare."

A number of locals confirmed to BuzzFeed News they've also received the "bizarre" phone call, but said it didn't sway them to vote for Feeney.

Labor confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Feeney’s mum was making phone calls on his behalf, and say it's normal for family members to get involved.

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But Labor sources say it is unusual in this instance, when the party has the Batman campaign on such a short leash, and is desperate to avoid any more missteps.

Feeney is on the verge of losing the inner-northern Melbourne electorate to Greens candidate Alex Bhathal, despite it once being the safest ALP seat in the country.

Alex Bhathal / Facebook

Over the past 15 years the Greens' primary vote in Batman has risen from 11.6% in 2001 to 26.4% in 2013, which puts Bhathal within striking distance of parliament.

The latest polling done by the Greens has the party's vote in the area at an all time high. The Lonergan research poll of 1600 voters gives them a primary vote of 41% and Labor 28%. Based on preferences, the poll found the Greens would win the seat 55-45% in two-party preferred terms.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

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