Libs vie for Macnamara

Kate Ashmor.

LAWYER Kate Ashmor is the only Jewish nominee and female among several Liberals contesting for preselection as the party’s candidate for Macnamara (formerly Melbourne Ports), to be decided by the Liberals on September 2.

Ashmor, immediate past chair of the Liberals’ federal Melbourne Ports conference, and chair of Caulfield Park Bendigo Bank, said voters in Macnamara “deserve a parliamentary representative who truly understands the electorate and is passionate about its past, present and future”, describing Macnamara as “the community I love”.

A staunch advocate for Israel, Ashmor this year moved a motion carried unanimously at a Victorian Liberal State Council meeting urging the federal Coalition government not to abstain on anti-Israel votes at the UN, and has slammed UNESCO’s resolutions denying Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s holy sites.

“The stakes are high and I am ready to fight to protect what matters most: our values,” she stated this week.

Contesting again, Dr Owen Guest was the 2016 Melbourne Ports Liberal candidate who was narrowly defeated by veteran Labor MP Michael Danby but achieved a 0.85 per cent swing to the Liberal Party on first-preference votes.

Owen Guest. Photo: Peter Haskin

He told The AJN if he becomes Macnamara’s MP, “You can say with absolute surety you will have the support of the Liberal Party and myself that the Jewish community and Israel have always received [from us].”

Craig Cobbin, a youth sailing coach who joined the party in 2010, was set to nominate when The AJN spoke with him on Tuesday. Describing himself as “a great admirer of Israel”, he would like to see trade and security relations between Australia and Israel strengthened.

Port Philip councillor Marcus Pearl, who is reportedly contesting for preselection, is a senior banking executive and has long held an interest in local community issues. He had not responded to The AJN at the time of going to press.

The successful Liberal candidate will face off against Jewish candidate Josh Burns who was preselected for Labor after news that Danby is retiring.

In what is expected to be a knife-edged contest between Labor, the Liberals and the Greens, Steph Hodgins-May, the Greens’ 2016 candidate, who controversially declined to take part in a candidates’ debate organised by Zionism Victoria and The AJN during that campaign, will again contest the seat for the Greens, after achieving a 4.9 per cent swing in 2016. The next federal election has to be held no later than November 2 next year.