End of an era

Michael Danby. Photo: Peter Haskin

AFTER 20 years in federal politics, Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby today officially announced that he will step down at the end of the current parliamentary term.

The Jewish Labor parliamentarian, who was elected to the House of Representatives in the 1998 election, has served in both government and opposition during his tenure.

He has been an outspoken voice in support of Israel, speaking against the anti-Israel boycott campaign, standing up for Israel on the floor of the House and regularly criticising the Iranian regime.

Writing on Facebook this morning, Danby said the decision to step down was “wholly my choice”.

I would have been pre-selected for the next election had I chosen to remain,” he said.

“Notwithstanding the seat is marginal, I also believe I could have won the seat for an eighth term.”

In a statement issued by his office, the long-time member added, “It has been an absolute honour to serve the people of this electorate for two decades and I will be always grateful for the opportunity.”

“I have made this decision even though the Party has committed to re-endorse sitting members because I believe it’s time for renewal,” he continued.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten congratulated Danby on his 20 years in parliament and thanked him for his service to the labour movement. 

“Michael’s colleagues and his constituents know him as a champion for the arts and a true friend of Israel. Throughout his career Michael has always put fidelity to these principles ahead of any consideration of narrow political self-interest,” he said.

“It’s the reason I value Michael’s friendship and his advice so highly. Because you always know, regardless of the circumstances, he’s telling it to you straight.”

He added, “Michael Danby has never cut his cloth to suit the fashion of the moment, he has always been his own man and at the next election, he leaves politics on his own terms. I respect that, and I will miss him.

“I know he will continue to be a valuable source of counsel to me and a thoughtful contributor to public debate, particularly in foreign policy and international human rights. On behalf of the Labor family, I wish Michael and Amanda all the very best for the next chapter in their lives.”

Danby was never a minister or shadow minister during his career, however he was Opposition Whip from 2001 to 2007, Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts for six months in 2013 and then Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts from October 2013 until July 2016.

He said the protection of human rights, national and international security, economic development and infrastructure, democratic principles, social justice and the arts had been key themes in his public life.

“I believe Australia is fundamentally a tolerant and caring country and I depart politics urging the next generation of federal representatives to work assiduously to uphold the values of pluralism, diversity, ingenuity, and sheer hard work that have served this country so well,” he said.

“The Parliament has a critical leadership role in this regard.”

Danby paid tribute to his wife Amanda and his children Byron and Laura for their “love and understanding” as he fulfilled his parliamentary duties.

He also thanked his Labor colleagues, including opposition leader Shorten, and the broader Australian community for their valued support over the years.

He wished the next Labor candidate for Melbourne Ports a successful campaign.

AJN STAFF