An undefeated champion

Michael Danby, holding a poster from his first election campaign in 1998, at his Fitzroy Street office in St Kilda after announcing he will not be standing for re-election at the next federal election. Photo: Peter Haskin

TRIBUTES from across the political divide have flowed for Michael Danby, who announced last week that after seven elections, 20 years and thousands of communal gatherings, he will be bowing out of politics at the next federal election.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed the departing Member for Melbourne Ports as “a strong and passionate advocate for the Australian Jewish community”, Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten referred to him as a man who “always put fidelity to … principles ahead of any consideration of narrow political self-interest” and Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus labelled Danby a “warrior for the Australian Labor Party, for the people of Melbourne Ports and for Australia’s Jewish community”.

Victorian Senator Kimberley Kitching referred to Danby as “an undefeated champion” of human rights and the local community, while Jewish communal leaders referred to Danby as a politician with genuine convictions who never caved into to pressure or threats and placed his principles above all other considerations, even the advancement of his own career.

But for Danby himself, the most rewarding comment came from his son, Byron, who reflected on the enormous number of people that the outgoing MP fostered, cajoled, pestered and supported.

“It is all too common in politics to sideline those who might have thoughts and opinions of their own,” Byron said.

“Not only the parliaments of Australia but business, academia and the community are better for the sorts of people that dad has encouraged to get involved and make a contribution.”

Following his announcement, Danby sat down with The AJN this week and discussed the highs and lows of his political career, revealing for the first time that he took time away from Parliament in 2016 as he was suffering from depression. He also revealed how a young Israeli security analyst stopped a plane being blown up in Australia after recognising code words from the Australian Stock Exchange.

To date, three people have announced their intention to run for Labor preselection in Danby’s electorate, which is to be renamed Macnamara: Josh Burns, a senior adviser to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews; Nick Dyrenfurth, executive director of the John Curtin Research Centre; and former Glen Eira mayor Mary Delahunty.

JOSHUA LEVI

For full coverage, see this week’s AJN.