Dalidakis leaves politics

Philip Dalidakis. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

IN a surprise move, Victorian Labor MP Philip Dalidakis has announced his departure from politics to take up a senior corporate role with Australia Post.

The Jewish MP, one of the members of the Southern Metropolitan Region seat in the Legislative Council, was reelected at last November’s election, but left the cabinet to make room for the Andrews Government’s new 50-50 quota of female MPs, a setback for Dalidakis that others have attributed to ALP factional politics.

Dalidakis had been Victoria’s Trade and Investment Minister in the government’s first term, after he became an MP in 2014, taking his oath of office on a Torah scroll that had belonged to his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor.

After his resignation on Monday, he told The AJN he was “incredibly proud” of his four-and-a-half years in Parliament, reflecting that “my opportunity to serve shows young people in the Jewish community that they have a place in public life”.

But Dalidakis, who has a background in finance, added that his chance “to work with Christine Holgate [chief executive of Australia Post] and her amazing board is an opportunity too good to pass up”.

Dalidakis said he was proud to have been a co-chair of the Victorian Parliament’s Friends of Israel Group and has recommended to Liberal MP David Southwick, the other co-chair, that Jewish Labor MP Paul Hamer, who was elected to the seat of Box Hill last year, should become his successor in that role.

Reflecting on his innings, Dalidakis stated he remains concerned about efforts at Yeshivah College to make the school a safe place for children in the wake of incidents dealt with in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Progress “has slowed a little … I would like to see the job completed, as children are the most vulnerable members of the community”.

Dalidakis, whose mother and aunt were raised in the Jewish ghetto in Shanghai during World War II, flew to Shanghai last year to symbolically return a Sefer Torah from that city, after it had been repaired in Melbourne.

On Facebook, the ex-MP thanked Premier Daniel Andrews. “From dealing with sensitive issues of child sex abuse at Yeshivah to rebuilding schools that have rarely seen money spent on them, he has always been ready to meet with me, take my calls, return my messages and help me in any way he can. To my other Labor colleagues, you are achieving great things and now my time has come to be a spectator.”

PETER KOHN