The Poll Bludger
Margin: Labor 3.6%
Region: Inner Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: Michael Danby has had a fairly secure hold on Melbourne Ports through a career going back to 1993, but the Greens could pose a challenge to Labor over the long term.
Candidates in ballot paper order
HENRY VON DOUSSA
JOHN B MYERS
ROBERT MILLEN SMYTH
Held by Labor without interruption since 1906, Melbourne Ports covers bayside inner Melbourne from the mouth of the Yarra through Port Melbourne and Albert Park to St Kilda, further jutting inland in the south to take in Elsternwick. Labor’s lengthy tenure belies the electorate’s complexity, with wealthy Liberal-voting elements making their presence felt near the city and around South Yarra and Caulfield at the eastern end, and the Greens looming as a threat to Labor over the long term. The Greens are particularly strong in and around St Kilda, and will have drawn encouragement from their victory in the partially corresponding seat of Prahran at the 2014 state election. The electorate has the nation’s highest proportion of Jewish residents, at 12.8% of the total according to the 2011 census, and ranks at or near the top for numbers of Poles, Russians and Hungarians. It also has the second lowest proportion of Christians after its northern neighbour, Melbourne.
Melbourne Ports has existed federation, and extended west beyond the mouth of the Yarra River to encompass Williamstown and its surrounds until the Gellibrand electorate was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949. Only in 1969 did its bayside frontage extend far enough to the south-east to include all of St Kilda and Elwood. Despite a demographic transformation since that time that has made the electorate the tenth wealthiest in the country, Labor’s two-party vote has remained fairly stable. The seat has had only five members during its long period of Labor control: James Matthews until 1931; Ted Holloway, a Curtin-Chifley government minister who moved to Melbourne Ports after unseating Prime Minister Stanley Bruce in Flinders two years earlier, until 1951; Frank Crean, Whitlam government Treasurer and father of Simon, until 1977; Clyde Holding, who came to the seat after a long and unproductive spell as state Opposition Leader, until 1998; and thereafter by the incumbent, Michael Danby.
Michael Danby is a member of the Right sub-faction associated with Stephen Conroy and Bill Shorten, and his pre-parliamentary career included stints as editor of the Australia-Israel Review, staffer to Hawke government minister Barry Cohen, and industrial officer for the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association. His most senior ranking has been as parliamentary secretary in the arts portfolio, both in government from March 2013 and opposition after September 2013, but he has frequently been in the news as a supportive voice for Israel.
The Liberal candidate is Owen Guest, who owns a financial trading company and holds a doctorate in economics.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.