It’s not publicly known what John Howard did on his overnight birthday stay in Darwin last night (Thursday)—and certainly not by Solomon MHR, Dave Tollner. He claimed in the local press today that he didn’t even realise the PM was in town. He claims he usually gets a “heads up” if the boss is visiting Darwin.

Probably just as well, because Tollner would have had to tell John Winston that there is now an active police investigation into a Country Liberal Party (CLP) booze cruise in the waters off Bathurst and Melville islands north of the Territory capital.

Speculation has centred on allegations that—contrary to a Liquor Act declaration requiring permits to drink—members of the CLP party had been spotted drinking p-ss on the beach near the community of Nguiu, as well as at its local airstrip.

Not a good look, while Mal Brough is lecturing that same community about stemming the “rivers of grog” on Aboriginal communities. Even if there has been no illegality, it’s hard to justify getting on the turps in full sight of an Aboriginal town which has liquor restrictions.

Participation in drinking in a restricted area has been vociferously denied by Senator Nigel Scullion—Brough’s junior minister—Dave Tollner and local CLP legislative assembly member, Terry Mills. Their denials have been backed—albeit circumspectly—by the Prime Minister and CLP opposition leader, Jodeen Carney.

It will be interesting to see if the police investigation turns up anything. While it seems that Scullion, Tollner and Mills have yet to be spoken to by detectives, a good number of people on the island have been interviewed.

If nothing else, the local rubbish tip now has to cope with empty bottles of Crown Lager, a brand has never seen the light of day on Bathurst Island, full or empty. Scullion has acknowledged these up-market empties were dumped in local bins.