Elaine Carbines

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Elaine Cafferty Carbines
Born Elaine Cafferty
4 February 1957 (1957-02-04) (age 60)
Manchester, England
Nationality Naturalized Australian
Education Monash University Class of 1979
Occupation ex-Member of the Victoria Legislative Council
Known for Politician

Elaine Cafferty Carbines (born Elaine Cafferty, 4 February 1957) is an Australian politician.[1] She was an Australian Labor Party member of the Victorian Legislative Council from September 1999 to November 2006, representing Geelong Province. A former teacher and community campaigner, Carbines was a prominent backbench member of the government, often raising issues of local concern. She was a member of the Labor Right faction.

Early life[edit]

Carbines was born in Manchester, England, but moved to Australia in 1968 after completing her elementary schooling.[2] She received her secondary education at Mitcham High School, and studied teaching (BA 1978, Dip Ed 1979) at Monash University.

It was at university where she joined the Labor Party, in response to the controversial dismissal of Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by Governor-General John Kerr. She worked as a secondary school teacher, mostly in underprivileged areas for the next twenty years.

In 1988 she gained a Diploma of Humanities from La Trobe University.[3]

She is married to Shane Carbines, a former umpire and senior official with the Geelong Football Umpires League. They have two children, Hannah and Scott. Elaine is also stepmother to Anthony and Nick.[2]

Political life[edit]

Throughout her working life, Carbines remained active in politics, having been a party member since university. She was the secretary of Labor's Belmont branch in 1994, and of the Portarlington branch from 1995 to 1997. In 1996, she made an unsuccessful bid for the seat of Bellarine in the Legislative Assembly. She was a delegate to the party's state conference, representing the federal electorate of Corangamite, from 1995 to 2009.

Carbines was also actively involved in several environmental campaigns, most notably the attempt to stop the move of the Coode Island chemical plant to the environmentally sensitive Point Lillias, and a proposal to build a rowing course on the site of the Belmont Common, another environmentally sensitive area on the outskirts of Geelong. When Carbines won Labor pre-selection to make a second run for office - this time for the Legislative Council seat of Geelong Province in the lead-up to the 1999 state election, the campaign against both developments became a key part of her platform. On election day, she received a swing of nearly five percent, and defeated sitting Liberal member Bill Hartigan on preferences.

Carbines was a member of the Road Safety and Library Committees in her first three years in office, but was initially overlooked for ministerial duties. She also led the Live Music Taskforce, which attempted to solve issues related to the future of the live music scene in Melbourne, which many perceived to be under threat as a result of venues closing due to noise complaints and development. In March 2002, in the leadup to the election due later that year, she was made Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Training. In December that year, after Labor's election victory, she was instead made Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment.

Carbines was by far the most visible of the four Geelong MPs, and is regularly seen in the media engaging with local issues. A popular local member, she campaigned for improved roads in the region, improved facilities in some of its smaller towns and repeatedly voice concerns about environmental issues, including the fate of Corio Bay and the Otway Ranges.[4] She also actively tried to engage with the community, frequently attending public meetings and raising community concerns in parliament. This earned her some prominent supporters in the Geelong community; despite her often left-wing views, the head of the city's Chamber of Commerce, in noting that the state's second-largest city had no members of the ministry, prominently singled out Carbines as the city's best hope of obtaining one.

Carbines also been vocal on issues of broader social significance, such as the treatment of refugees, recognition of the Australian Aboriginal flag and the issue of Tibetan independence. As a member of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet Group, Carbines was among those who put their names to an advertisement taken out by the Australia-Tibet Council during a visit to Australia by Chinese President Hu Jintao during 2003. There was some controversy when it became public that the Chinese Consul-General, Junting Tian, had raised the matter of her involvement in the campaign with Premier Steve Bracks and had sent Carbines a letter warning her against becoming involved in Tibet-related issues, which she later described as "intimidatory".

Despite Carbines' local popularity, rumors began circulating as early as 2004 that she would face a challenge to her preselection for the 2006 state election due to factional issues. The situation has been further complicated by major changes to the format of the Legislative Council due to be introduced at the election, which will see Carbines' two-member electorate be merged into a significantly larger five-member electorate. Local media reported in October 2005 that two factionally connected Melbourne unionists were being tipped for the first two easily winnable positions on the party's ticket, with Carbines likely to be faced with the choice of taking the third potentially winnable "death seat" or contesting Legislative Assembly preselection against lower-profile, but better-connected colleagues Ian Trezise or Michael Crutchfield. Carbines was apparently saved when Bracks personally intervened on her behalf in January 2006, asking factional chiefs to find her and four upper house MPs a safe seat. This did not happen and Carbines lost her seat to Peter Kavanagh of the Democratic Labor Party after a recount.[5]


  1. ^ "Australian Women Biographical entry". 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  2. ^ a b "EMILY Women's Support Site". 2006. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  3. ^ "Victoria Legislative Assembly Biography". 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  4. ^ "David Koch Press Release condemning Carbines". 2006-11-22. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  5. ^ Gardiner, Ashley; Whinnett, Ellen (2006-12-13). "Herald Sun News Brief on Elections". Herald Sun. Retrieved 2008-01-22.