Labor victorious in Melbourne Ports

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By Daniel Wilson

It got ugly. There were accusations of bigotry, there was outrage on preferences, there was vandalism, four men were arrested, the vote count was never-ending, there were calls for resignations – and that was just Labor, Liberals and Greens.

The blows began in earnest when Greens candidate Steph Hodgins-May pulled out of an election forum hosted by The Australian Jewish News and Zionism Victoria. She reasoned that Zionism Victoria was a “politically-active organisation”. The mood toward her changed in sections of the community.

Capitalising on the moment, Labor incumbent Michael Danby took an easy punch, “This is the face of bigotry. The Greens Melbourne Ports candidate has unleashed her own personal boycott campaign against an Australian Jewish community peak body. Greens leader Di Natale now has no option but to sack her.”

Danby’s expectedly bullish tactic was picked up by major news outlets. Following the furore Hodgins-May said at a forum hosted by The Australian Union of Jewish Students, “I certainly did not expect, I’ll be quite frank, the response that ensued. I will say that I’ve certainly never been accused of being a bigot or anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist and I understand that that is how a lot of people felt and were quite hurt and for that, I do sincerely apologise. I really do. I did not mean to cause that hurt and offense to your community.”

Despite the war of words, Hodgins-May continued to preference Danby ahead of the Liberal candidate Dr Owen Guest. In a rather unusual move, Danby was preferencing the Liberals ahead of the Greens in some parts of the electorate, and in other parts not.

But that was not the biggest story in this contested seat. Four men were arrested at 2:40am on the morning of Election Day. Andrew Landeryou, David Asmar, George Droutsas, and Dean Sherriff were arrested for allegedly vandalising Greens and Liberal polling material at multiple polling stations from Elwood to Port Melbourne, and for allegedly driving at volunteers who tried to stop them, Fairfax reported.

All four men have ties to the Labor party. Liberal candidate Owen Guest said, “If Michael Danby will not disassociate himself from this conduct then he should resign”. At the time of writing the police investigation is still ongoing.

As the dust begins to settle on the battlefield, it is emerging that Michael Danby has held the seat of Melbourne Ports for Labor.

It was the only genuine three-horse race in the country. And 20 days after the election, with 84.5 per cent of the vote counted, his two challengers were still not willing to officially concede defeat.

The Liberal candidate Owen Guest won the primary vote with 41.9 per cent, at the time of writing this piece. The Greens challenger Steph Hodgins-May won 23.9 per cent of the vote. Michael Danby won 26.9 per cent.

Preferences from the Greens and minor parties put Danby ahead of Guest 51.4 to 48.6 per cent on a two party preferred basis.


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