Danby not fixed on Ports’ name change

David Schout

Outgoing Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby says he is not in favour of the federal seat’s name change to “Macnamara”.

From July 13 the seat will be named after medical pioneer Dame Annie Jean Macnamara, whose work with polio-affected children at the Royal Children’s Hospital in the first half of the 20th century improved many lives.

Mr Danby said, while the Australian Electoral Commission’s sentiment was right, its reasoning that the once ports-focused area “now has a stronger residential and urban character” failed to reflect the seat’s history.

“I am pleased to see the Electoral Commission … is moving to ensure that women are better represented when it comes to the naming of federal electorates,” Danby said.

“Dame Annie Jean Macnamara was a greatly admired medical scientist. Unfortunately she neither worked or lived in Melbourne Ports and seems to have no known connection to the seat.”

Danby said the seat’s original name was not only still applicable in 2018, but also reflected the area’s industrial past.

“Melbourne Ports is the name of the ‘original federation seat’, and has been known by that name as an electoral division since 1901.

“(It) is gender neutral, has significant historical value, and is geographically appropriate to the seat.”

The electorate’s boundaries have changed too, but the 20-year Melbourne Ports MP said the changes were “minor” and “made little sense”.

Dame Jean was the honorary medical officer in the physiotherapy department at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne from 1927 to 1959. It was here she treated children suffering from poliomyelitis, while training other doctors in the management of the disease.

Her daughter Merran Samuel said the seat’s renaming was fitting.

“Dame Jean was a humble and shy person, who was driven by a sense of duty and service. Educated on a scholarship, she was one of the first two women residents at the Royal Children’s Hospital,” Mrs Samuel said.

“She was tireless in her support for her patients with polio and other disabilities. She believed that if it was your power to right a wrong you should do so, and that often involved political change.”

The name and boundary changes officially apply from July 13.

Join our Facebook Group