Seat Watch - Melbourne Ports

One seat that is being very keenly fought is that of Melbourne Ports, in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. Despite being an affluent seat whose demographics lean toward the Liberals, the seat has stuck thick with the ALP, perhaps due to large pockets of Jewish and gay and lesbian voters, traditional supporters of Labor. This time around, the Liberals can sniff blood, and are going full bore to win the seat.

The incumbant is controversial Labor MP Michael Danby, a member of the Unity fanction and perhaps one of the most conservative within the Labor caucus. Danby has made many enemies within the parliament and the media, with MPs on the left - notable Tanya Plibersek and Julia Irwin - being critical of Danby's unstinting support for Israel, and outburst such as this one directed at SMH columnist Alan Ramsey. Danby does, however, know how to get his constituency on side. With 3 in 10 Melbourne Ports voters identifying as Jewish, Danby knows how to use the issue of Israel to his advantage. In the 2001 campaign, Danby published ads in the Australian Jewish News arguing that voters should support Israel by re-electing Danby. Hmmm...

This time around, the argument will be harder to make. The challenger is Liberal mna-about-town David Southwick. Unlike previous recent candidates for the Liberals in Melbourne Ports, Southwick is Jewish and is prepared to take on the incumbant on the issue of Israel. He has also adopted the issue of funding to private (Jewish) schools, which would be in doubt under Labor's education funding model. It is an impressive campaign, and one that will make an impact. Less impressive is the vacuous slogan that Southwick has plastered on every billboard around the electorate - Delivering Community Values. How does one deliver values?? They can be held, yes, and they can be expressed. But deliverred? It sounds like one buzzword in a chain too many.

Ultimately, this seat will be determined on preferences. In 2001, the Liberal candidate secured 274 more primary votes, but after preferences, the margin was almost 9,000. Why? The 9% to the Dems and the 11% to the Greens flowed heavily to the ALP. This time around, most of those Democrats votes will be cannibalised by the Greens, making the Libs' task even harder. For Southwick to win this one, he will need to not only increase the Libs primary vote by 2%, he will also need to greatly increase the share of minor party preferences. It won't happen. This time, at least. Danby will be on notice, though, that he can't take the seat for granted.


Anonymous said…
What has Danby done in the community?

Trade unionism, press secretary and speech writer for a former MP, editor for AIR and student unionism. Is that community values? I think not.

What has Southwick done in the community?

Southwick is a member of Ardoch youth, Try and youth services, and Maccabi Victoria. He is also a congregant of St kilda Synagogue and (board member of) Temple Beth Israel.

I've seen Southwick in my area and spoke to him about education, the War on Iraq and what he's done in the community. He told me that he helped a reatarded man with his pension and his mother's pension and he sorted that out.

It is obvious that Southwick is delivering community values, but Danby isn't.
Anonymous said…
Southwick's only 'real' issue was the finding of Jewish Schools under Labor. But the ALP policy published last week not only promises that Jewish Schools will recieve adequate funding, it acutally holds to prospect of increased funidng for these schools under a Labor government.

As for Values, well, Southwick does not even live in the electorate. He lives in Peter Costello's seat of Higgins (Armadale).

Apart from his Jewishness and support for Israel - that is in any case not as effective as Danby's - Southwick has nothing to offer the community of Melbourne Ports.

Danby has strong support from the Lesbian and Gay Community, The Arts Community, and despite his conservative views on issues of national security, he is one of the most queer-friendly MPs in Australia, and is famous for his fights for Human Rights and proper education in China, Indonesia, and (even) Australia.
Anonymous said…
True that David Southwick lives in Armadale, but you can kick a football from here he lives and it will hit Dandenong Road (border between Melbourne Ports and Higgins). Did you know that failed Opposition Leader Simon Crean (member for Hotham) lives in Melbourne Ports. So should we say the same for Simon Crean in Hotham? I think not!

Trust me I've known David for many years, and he has a lot to offer to Melbourne Ports. He has been involved in the both Jewish and non-Jewish communities. He is also supportive of all peoples whether they be gay or straight, Jew or Gentile or whatever.

So take it from me, David should be the member for Melbourne Ports, not Danby. Danby is simply an MP out of egotistic arrogance. I don't see him doing anything for the community. I've lived in Melbourne Ports all my life and I've never seen him in my community. He's the member for Melbourne ports, not the member for Kalgoorlie!

I'm not a politicial-oriented person, but I do know when a person should or should not a representative of an electorate. David is, Danby isn't.
Anonymous said…
I met Michael Danby at the Caulfield Train Station, and he shoves he propaganda right in front of my face (almost got my eye).

Because I wasn't happy with him, I told him "I'm voting Southwick".

Boys, you guys should look at the way he look at me. He looked like he wanted to kill me when I said the word "Southwick".

I hope David Southwick doesn't do the same to me in a railway station.
Anonymous said…
I dont know Southwick personally...hear he is a rather arrogant person though (but I guess you do have to be to be a good politician). He is strong on Aboriginal and refugee issues...may conflict with views of the Liberal leadership. If he were elected, I assume he would lay low about those views.
As for Danby...I've met him many times, every time I see him he is polite and friendly. Michael does not have too many friends from within his party. He probably should be sitting on the other side of the chamber...would make me happier (but not very realistic). Perosnally I hope Danby this will be a victory for the right faction in the ALP. The left already have too much control of the party ala Mark Latham. Im hoping for a Danby victory and an ALP loss...both seem probable.
Anonymous said…
A 3 year old with a sore foot could kick a footy from David Southwick's house into Melbourne Ports. There are 2 (count them, 2) houses between his place and the electorate boundary. He set up his first business in the electorate, he's lived here, he works here, and he is actively involved in Melbourne Ports community organisations today. He's young, active, friendly, likeable and smart. Danby's campaign is being financed by us poor suckers the taxpayers. David has attracted his own campaign funding. He has also attracted a large team of supporters from outside the Liberal party, whereas Danby is forced to take his taxpayer funded staff out canvassing. This is because David is genuinely involved in the community while Danby is just notching up the years for his parliamentary pension. With any luck the voters will deny him that drain on the public purse.

And on the private schools issue, Latham must think the punters are complete thickos who can't work out that the "freeze" on funding for Jewish schools means deferring cuts till the ALP wins. Oh, and will somebody please ask him if he still thinks death taxes are the magic solution to finding extra money for services.

Not Nancy Numbers of Melbourne Ports
Anonymous said…
The four Melbourne Jewish schools on Labor's “funding guarantee” hit-list will loose $3,467,135 between 2006-2009 alone. The total nine Australian Jewish day schools hit by Labor will loose $7,390,722 between 2006-2009 alone. If any fo them fail Labor's post-election "audit" of Jewish schools, then they will loose even more money. We're supposed to be thankful to Michael Danby for achieving this if Labor is elected? forget it!
Anonymous said…
Michael Danby has recently announced Latham is visiting Melbourne Ports this Sunday and Peter Garrett is visiting today. He had Beazley for a community forum a few weeks ago. He is getting Joe Gutnick to host Latham.

Southwick has had Nelson and Patterson twice each as well as Costello, Kroger, Pyne, both Kemps and assorted Senators throughout his campaign.

Could it be that this seat is a bit closer than we thought?
Anonymous said…
Michael Danby has recently announced Latham is visiting Melbourne Ports this Sunday and Peter Garrett is visiting today. He had Beazley for a community forum a few weeks ago. He is getting Joe Gutnick to host Latham.

Southwick has had Nelson and Patterson twice each as well as Costello, Kroger, Pyne, both Kemps and assorted Senators throughout his campaign.

Could it be that this seat is a bit closer than we thought?
Anonymous said…
Last Monday's Australian had an article on the Mark Latham/Gough Whitlam/Jenny Macklin/Steve Bracks/Kim Carr visit to Melbourne Ports:

"A small group of a dozen protesters, wearing masks bearing the images of so-called 'anti-Israel' Labor MPs including Julia Irwin, Tanya Plibersek, Anthony Albanese, Kim Carr and Leo McLeay, attempted to confront attendees of the meeting.

'We are concerned about recent Labor Party attacks on the Jewish community and the party's track record of demonising Israel's security arrangements,' protest organiser Marcel White said."

...Interesting to see so many ALP heavies in Melbourne Ports only two weeks from election day.
Anonymous said…
The ALP leadership has been hosted by Saul Same & later on Gutnick too for the last 50 years, always a bout a week or two before the election... so don't get too excited about it being close.

All the relevant polls in the area (from both sides) show the democrat vote has collapsed and now splits between the ALP and the Greens. The Libs merely maintain their primary vote from the last 2 elections... which means the ALP holds the seat.

Southwick makes a lot of noise, but most voters in Melbourne ports will not change their ways (and should not). Many Jewish people have voted for the liberals in the past when there wass no Jewish candidate and will continue to do so now. On the other hand, Southwick is unable (due to his personality and political views) to woo non-Liberal voters.

Honestly, I think we would all have been better of if the liberals would have placed a real candidate with a political track record and any other features apart from being Jewish. And if the Libs really want a Jewish candidate they could have placed Josh Frydenberg or someone of that calibre and not Southwick who, with all due respect, simply does not have what it takes at this stage and could use a few more years in the oven.

In any case- Jewish people vote exactly like all other Australian people. Both the ALP and the Libs have always been friendly to Israel and to the Jewish Community, and both parties have their fringe MPs who every now and then make tasteless comments that have no impact on the front bench.

My Prediction- Danby maintains the seat with a slight swing towards Labor after preferences.
Anonymous said…
Poor old Michael D, is getting a bit edgy out at Melbourne Ports. Every time he runs into David Southwick he loses his temper. He's lost his block at Russian Jewish community leaders twice now. Micky, a hint - if you want people to support you, don't keep losing your temper at them and shouting like a raving lunatic! Just ask your ex-wife.

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