About Michael Danby

Michael Danby is the Federal Member for Melbourne Ports

Michael Danby is the federal member for Melbourne Ports, and a member of the opposition Labor Party. He is a 6-term member having been elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, & 2013.

Local Issues

Michael has campaigned on a great many local issues, such as:

  • Childcare – Given the inner city baby boom Michael has pushed for greater investment in childcare. Under the Labor Government, Melbourne Ports was the only electorate in the country to receive federal funding for two family and children centres. These centres were built at each end of the electorate one in South Melbourne and one in East St Kilda.
  • Ending the Grand Prix – local residents are disproportionately affected by this festival of loud noise and burning rubber – Michael is campaigning with the local community to make sure that this noisy, bothersome, overpriced and under-attended event moves elsewhere.
  • Arts funding – When in October 2008 the then Minister for the Arts decided to reduce funding to the Melbourne Ports – based Australian National Academy of the Arts Michael led a chorus of criticism against the decision – some months later the Government changed its decision and announced an additional $500,000 for the elite classical training centre.
  • Security funding for schools and childcare centres – Michael has campaigned over many years for the Commonwealth to provide funding for schools at risk of being targeted by extremists. Michael first raised the issue publically on the Sunday program in the late 1990s, aware of the concerns of Jewish schools in Melbourne Ports. While in power Labor distributed more than $35 million under the Secure Schools program to mainly Jewish and Moslem educational institutions across the country.
  • Making sure Melbourne Ports does not miss out on Commonwealth funding – As an inner city area with a growing population, Melbourne Ports has particular needs. Michael has worked to ensure that Melbourne Ports has received additional federal funding in such key areas as education infrastructure, social housing and community security.

Interests and activities

Since his election his main areas of interest have been foreign affairs, defence and national security, immigration, electoral matters, human rights and the environment.

  • Michael is known for speaking out on international human rights issues.- He meets frequently with representatives of the Tibetan exile community, and led the first ever Australian Parliamentary group to Dharamsala, in Northern India to meet with the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration (often referred to as the Tibetan Government in Exile).- Michael also has close links with the Uyghur community, having helped organise the visit of the Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer, to Australia for the Melbourne International Film Festival in August 2009.- Michael also has a keen interest in human rights issues in Africa. He has links with the Australian Darfuri community, and was the official Australian representative to the independence celebration of South Sudan.
  • Michael also takes a keen interest in Middle East Affairs, and supports Australia’s (bipartisan) position of support for a two state-solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.
  • Michael is a member of the Steering Committee of an international network called the World Movement for Democracy. ‘WMD’ is a network of activists, practitioners, scholars, policy makers, and funders who work to advance democracy. The objectives of the network are to: ‘Strengthen democracy where it is weak – Defend democracy where it is longstanding – & Support efforts of pro-democracy groups in non-democratic countries.’
  • Michael has been a strong supporter of rights for LGBTI community over many years and supports a modification of the Marriage Act to allow LGBTI people to marry.
  • Michael is known for being a supporter of strong action to reduce carbon emissions, and believes putting a price on carbon is by far the most effective and efficient means of achieving significant carbon emission reductions.

Parliamentary Service

  • He is currently the Deputy Chair of the House Standing Committee on Procedure and a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.
  • From 2008 to 2010 Michael was chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration.  From 2011 to 2013 he was Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.
  • From 2008 to 2013 Michael was Chair of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for the United States, and is a Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Group for Tibet. He has also been a secretary of the Australia – Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group and a Chair of the Australia – Poland Parliamentary Friendship Group.
  • Michael served as one of two Opposition Whips (2001-2007).

Ministerial Service

  • Michael Danby was Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts from March 2013 until September 2013. While Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts, Michael worked on the repatriation of indigenous remains to Australia, and helped progress the proposal for a national keeping place for indigenous remains. Michael also took the lead in implementing the Creative Young Stars arts funding program.
  • Michael is currently Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts.

Parliamentary party positions

  • Michael was an Opposition Whip from 2001 to 2007
  • Michael is also a Member of the Caucus Social Policy Committee, and Secretary of the Caucus National Security and Trade Committee.

Occupations prior to entering Parliament

  • Industrial Officer, Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association 1994-96.
  • Adviser to the Minister for Tourism, the Hon. AG Griffiths, MP 1993-94.
  • Editor, Australia/Israel Review 1986-93.
  • Senior Vice-President, International Youth Conference, Kingston, Jamaica 1985.
  • Assistant Private Secretary to the Hon. B Cohen, MP 1983-84.
  • Assistant to Mr S Lipski 1977-80.
  • Manager, Hal Maag Art Gallery.
  • President, Student Council 1975-76.
Military Service

Michael was a reserve officer cadet with Officer Cadet Training Unit, 3 Training Group, based at Albert Park and Puckapunyal.


Michael has received awards from the Republic of Poland and the Victorian Jewish community. These awards are:

  • The Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for distinguished contribution to international cooperation between Poland and Australia.
  • The Jerusalem Prize for contribution to the Australian Jewish Community and Israel.
The Electorate of Melbourne Ports

The Division of Melbourne Ports is located to the south of Melbourne’s central business district. It covers an area of approximately 40 sq km around the north and north-eastern shores of Port Phillip Bay. The suburbs include Albert Park, Balaclava, Caulfield, Caulfield East, Caulfield North, part of Elsternwick, Elwood, Middle Park, Port Melbourne, Ripponlea, St Kilda, St Kilda East, St Kilda West, Southbank, South Melbourne and parts of South Yarra and Docklands.

Melbourne Ports has been held by the Australian Labor Party since 1906. When it was located in the industrial suburbs in the west of the electorate, for decades it was one of the safest Labor seats in the country. However with changing boundaries and demographics, Melbourne Ports is now one of Labor’s more marginal seats.


Michael was born in Melbourne on 16 February 1955, and has two adult children. He has lived in Elwood for all but a few years of his life.  He was educated at Elwood State School, Mount Scopus College and Melbourne University, where he was active in student politics and joined the Australian Labor Party. He is a keen supporter of St. Kilda in the AFL, Port Melbourne in the VFL and the Port Melbourne Colts in the Western Region League.

In February 2008 he and his longtime partner, barrister Amanda Mendes da Costa, were married at Parliament House, Canberra, the first Jewish wedding held in the building.