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Candid candidates talk Southbank

13 Aug 2013

As many lose faith in our two major political party’s leaders, the federal election on September 7 may well be decided on the strength of local candidates. With that in mind, ‘Southbank Local News’ spoke to the three major party’s candidates for the House of Representatives in Melbourne Ports.

Michael Danby (ALP)

Mr Danby said you won’t hear him talk too glowingly about former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett, but one thing he will say is that Mr Kennett’s job of revitalising Southbank has been great for Melbourne. He pointed to the fantastic mix of commercial, residential and cultural centres in the area.

Mr Danby said the biggest issue facing Southbank in the next five years was managing development and population growth. Mr Danby said he had kept a close eye on the Southbank blueprint for the Arts Precinct and was confident it was being delivered responsibly.

He also said the growing number of families in Southbank put a school, childcare and maternal health facilities high on the agenda in the area.

“The Boyd Centre is a good start – but is already showing signs of strain. Local and State Governments need to identify and co-ordinate the needs for future growth in demand and start to plan now,” Mr Danby explained.

Mr Danby said that, if re-elected, he would continue his campaign to implement the metro train tunnel, which includes a new underground station at the Domain interchange. He also said he’d be campaigning strongly to have the grand prix at Albert Park moved elsewhere.

Kevin Ekendahl (Liberal)

Mr Ekendahl is a Southbank resident and said, as such, he was very aware of how great it was to work and live here. He said that, despite Southbank being characterised by tall buildings, there was a great sense of community in the area and that every resident he has spoken to loved living here.

Mr Ekendahl listed schools, crime, facilities for our ageing population and development and traffic as Southbank’s major issues. He said Southbank experienced a disproportionate amount of crime.

“Having measures in place that can detect and prevent crime, such as CCTV cameras and better lighting is essential,” Mr Ekendahl said.

He also was concerned about health facilities for the ageing population of Soutbank, saying: “As more elderly people move into the area and current residents age, social isolation and accessing health facilities becomes an issue.”

Mr Ekendahl said that, if elected, he would fight for current schools to have increased capacity to take in more students, as well as urging the State Government to speed up plans for a new school and plan for another.

He also wanted to develop a better relationship with the between State and Federal Governments to make sure locals were listened to on planning issues.

Ann Birrell (Greens)

Ms Birrell said Southbank was a fabulous location, being tucked between the city, the river, parks and cultural centres. She said it had become one of the most livable suburbs in Melbourne, with open airy spaces like the promenade and around Malthouse.

Ms Birrell said inappropriate development, and the traffic congestion and loss of amenity that came along with it, was the biggest issue facing the area. She also said residents faced limited access to community facilities, schools, medical clinics, banks post office and community spaces and infrastructure that brought people together.

She also pointed out that Southbank was already being affected by flash flooding, as a result of climate change and the problem was only going to get worse.

“Locally, we need to upgrade drains, install water capture and storage projects and make Southbank’s streetscapes more water sensitive,” Ms Birrell explained.

Ms Birrell echoed Mr Danby’s thoughts on the metro train tunnel, saying: “The east-west link will not help Southbank, but the metro tunnel will provide more convenient and accessible public transport, which will get more cars off already congested roads.”

“With federal funds for these projects in place, Southbank can transition to a much more liveable suburb,” she added.

There are three other candidates running in the Melbourne Ports electorate:

Steven Armstrong
(Stable Population Party)

Terry Guthridge
 (Palmer United Australia)

Melissa Star
(Australian Sex Party)

The federal election is on September 7. At the time of printing the polling booths close-by included Old Galilee school hall (Cr Montague and Bank St South Melbourne), Port Melbourne Primary School (415 Graham St) and Melbourne Town Hall (90-130 Swanston St).

For a full list of polling booths, check out the AEC website

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