Friday, October 20, 2017

Michael Danby's Magical Mystery Tour

"Labor frontbenchers are losing patience with federal MP Michael Danby over repeated corrections he has made to his register of interests this week after it was revealed he went to Israel for speaking engagements while claiming to be too ill to attend parliament. Mr Danby has lodged three separate alterations to his parliamentary register to declare sponsored travel and other previously undisclosed interests since The Australian reported on Monday that he flew to Israel and Geneva in September last year for a busy round of scheduled conferences. Changes are meant to be lodged within 28 days of occurring, and knowingly providing false information risks referral for contempt of parliament.

"The Israel trip caused dismay in Labor ranks because Mr Danby had submitted a medical certificate stating he was unfit for parliamentary duties for a period that was later found to coincide with his travel. Bill Shorten has so far deflected media questions about Mr Danby's unsanctioned trip since The Australian's first report on the subject. However, he is reported to be not pleased after recently reprimanding the Labor MP for using his parliamentary allowance to fund an advertisement attacking the ABC's Jerusalem correspondent over her coverage.

"It is understood the Labor leader told Mr Danby this week to amend his parliamentary register so that it was correct, but the Labor MP since has been forced to make further changes because required information was missing or incomplete. Mr Danby submitted a brief change on Monday that said 'Economy fare Geneva - Ben Gurion 2 nights accomm.' The handwritten update was stamped by parliament's register on the day The Australian's first report on the subject appeared and several days after questions about Mr Danby's September 2016 travels were sent to him for a response. It did not name the trip's sponsor nor list any dates. A day later, Mr Danby replaced the update with another that said a pro-Israeli group, NGO Monitor, had helped pay for his overseas trip. This second update was worded differently: 'Economy flight Ben Gurion - Geneva 17-19 September 2016'. It reversed the order of Mr Danby's flight destination, no longer mentioned any sponsored accommodation and appeared to list Geneva travel dates when Mr Danby was still in Israel.

"Mr Danby then submitted a third register change, stamped on Wednesday, following reports in The Australian's Margin Call column that discussed interests including an undisclosed 20-year-old company directorship and a mortgage on a Fitzroy property.

"Resentment among Labor colleagues has compounded following confirmation that much of Mr Danby's Israel trip related to previously scheduled events, despite his claims to be ill. The Jerusalem Post said in its Grapevine column on September 13 last year that Mr Danby was in Israel and would hold a press conference at the Jerusalem Press Club 'on Sunday of next week'. The Post's advance notice said the press conference would be jointly hosted by Mr Danby and pro-Israeli lobby group NGO Monitor, which has Mr Danby as a member of its international advisory board. The column included details of how the Labor MP intended to speak out about an alleged scandal involving World Vision's aid operations in Gaza. Labor colleagues said yesterday that notice of a public event hosted by him in Israel 'on Sunday of next week' suggested the Labor MP's trip was pre-planned. One said yesterday: 'He's not looking like an accidental tourist here'." (MP anger over 'sick' Danby's world trip, Brad Norington, The Australian, 20/10/17)

But there's more:

"Labor's member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby has stuck by his just-in-time approach to parliamentary disclosure all week. Yesterday he finally lifted the veil on a 20-year-old corporate directorship and a host of other freebies. It's been a game of catch-up for the two-decade federal parliamentary veteran, who has fleshed out detail on a trip last year to Israel while on sick leave from federal parliament and has now confirmed his directorship of mysterious corporate vehicle Roosevelt Nominees. The company was formerly known as Daroda Investments, which was created in 1997, just ahead of Danby's entry to parliament the next year. It hasn't rated a mention Danby's register until now. He stresses it's a 'non-trading entity'.

"Danby has also just revealed he's got shares in the once Aidan Allen-advised listed law firm Slater and Gordon... He also has membership in the Qantas and Virgin clubs. 'Membership automatically aquired (sic) when becoming an MP, the same as other MPs,' he told the Register of Members Interests yesterday. Better late than never. There's also news of the mortgage on his partner Amanda Mendes da Costa's home in North Fitzroy, which her mum lives in rent-free. No word though, on his lawyer wife's new job as a full-time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Expect that in the 46th parliament - if Danby still has a seat by then." (Better late than never, Will Glasgow & Christine Lacy, The Australian, 20/10/17)


Grappler said...

Interesting to look at ABC's take on this. Of course, the recent brouhaha started with his attack on Sophie McNeill. The ABC did a story on Monday about his sick leave to go to the conference in Israel

but nothing since. In particular, nothing about the iterations of his parliamentary register or the recent revelation of a long-term directorship. Perhaps ABC is worried about another "bias" attack.

Grappler said...

More interesting is that none of this appears to be in The Age.