Labor MP says no more ABC attacks after party backlash

A Labor MP who stirred controversy by using a taxpayer-funded allowance to pay for attacks against an ABC journalist says he won't be running any further ads after a slapdown from Bill Shorten and an internal backlash.

Michael Danby is refusing to apologise for the two ads - placed in the Australian Jewish News - that criticised ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill, accusing her of displaying an anti-Israel bias in her reports.

The ABC hit back hard at the ads, with director of news Gaven Morris calling them "wrong", "unfair" and "bizarre". But Mr Danby on Sunday said he "does not resile at all from the content of my criticism".

The ardent Israel supporter said the ads were "proportionate" given the concerns of his Jewish constituents in his seat of Melbourne Ports - which he first won in 1998 but now holds on a margin of just 3 per cent.

"I spend my communications allowances as every other member of Parliament does on communicating a wide range of issues to people," he told Sky News on Sunday, in his first interview since the controversy.

"In my constituency there's a large section of the Jewish community concerned about fair and balanced coverage from the Middle East and they have been raising this issue with me for a long time."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called Mr Danby - his factional ally - to tell him he was deeply unimpressed after the first ad emerged last week. Mr Shorten told him to pull the second ad, but it had already gone to the printers.

Mr Danby conceded he was not Mr Shorten's "favourite person" right now.

"Obviously he thought they were unsubtle and I've pulled back and said that I won't be doing ads on the Jerusalem correspondent of the ABC in the future," he said. "It's not something I want to have a big fight with an old friend [over]."

The controversy has also stirred up internal mutterings about Mr Danby's future, with state and federal ALP sources hinting they could mount a preselection challenge against him if the veteran MP chooses to run an eighth time.

Mr Danby said he hasn't yet thought about what he intends to do at the next election and disputed claims the party was preparing to dump him. He said his support in his local branches - responsible for preselection - remains strong.

"I've won Melbourne Ports seven times. I'm very grateful to the party and my constituents for their support, it's a very difficult seat and I think that record speaks for itself," he said.

A decision by Attorney-General George Brandis to appoint Mr Danby's wife - lawyer Amanda Mendes Da Costa - to a well-paid job on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has further fuelled speculation he will soon retire.

Linfox executive Ari Suss was once thought to be Mr Danby's likely successor in the seat but is said to have cooled on the idea. Andrews government staffer Josh Burns has also been tipped as a potential candidate.

Michael Danby's second ad attacking the ABC's Sophie McNeill.

Michael Danby's second ad attacking the ABC's Sophie McNeill. Photo: Australian Jewish News

This story Labor MP says no more ABC attacks after party backlash first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.