DANBY’S JAUNTS

Federal Labor MP Michael Danby has been found to have charged taxpayers almost $15,000 for trips to Queensland with his wife.

The Age reports that Danby listed flights and other expenses linked to six trips to Queensland as parliamentary expenses, three of which entailed no parliamentary business at all.

While Danby alleges the taxpayer charges resulted from errors made by his office and has since paid for the three unrelated trips, they remained on the system for up to seven years until Danby was reportedly spooked by former Coalition health minister Sussan Ley’s expenses scandal early last year.

“Politicians had been castigated for incorrect use of travel and, like a lot of MPs, Michael wanted to be satisfied that the processes in his own office were faultless,” a spokesman said.

Separate to Dandy’s situation, routine freedom of information requests at The Australian ($) also reveal that Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young failed to reimburse taxpayers for expenses within the standard 30-day time frame, along with Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald, Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher.

‘GANGS’ RAZED

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has censured suggestions of an “African gang crisis” in Melbourne.

Accompanied by leaders from across Victoria’s African communities, Ashton used a press conference to announce a community task force to address what he described as a surge in public order offences in an area that is still “one of the safest places in the world to live”.

“And the sort of concept that somehow it’s unsafe to go out for dinner …” Ashton added, in an apparent reference to unsubstantiated claims from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, before asking a reporter, “how long since you’ve been out for dinner?” (turns out she prefers to cook at home, a response that elicited a round of laughter).

Ashton also revealed that people of African origin had been subject to racially motivated death threats during the debate about youth crime, which has included weeks of racial dog-whistling and false media reports.

His comments come as Melbourne’s Sudanese community reclaims the “#AfricanGangs” slight as a social media campaign; the now-ironic Twitter hashtag includes photos of young people receiving their legal admissions, holding newborn children, volunteering, and watching football.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT

“I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.” — President Donald Trump’s firm commitment to sign whatever immigration policy a group of top Democrats and Republicans come up with.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Ausgrid workers to strike on pay freezes

China files diplomatic protest over aid attack ($)

NT indigenous communities miss out on $500m in GST aid ($)

Production company issues apology over Craig McLachlan allegations

Ecuador looks for a way out of Julian Assange embassy ordeal

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney: All-expenses-paid wedding of same-sex couple Michael Petchell and Benjamin Gresham held. The wedding was worth about $40,000 and won as part of a competition.

THE COMMENTARIAT

A wish list for #auspol in 2018Judith Ireland (Sydney Morning Herald): “1. Uncertainty over citizenship is resolved quickly. And definitively: The fact that the great citizenship debacle is still debacling is the equivalent of wearing bell bottom trousers in the 1980s. This stuff was politically thrilling and legally gripping last year. But this year, people just want to a bit of constitutional rectitude, no?”

Household debt is the real threat, not Labor’s property tax reformChris Bowen (The Australian $): “We have the most generous property tax concessions in the world. Should we be surprised that we have one of the highest household leverage rates in the world?”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Libs eat their young to protect an intergenerational theft racketAdam Schwab: “For anyone who doubts that the Liberal Party is no longer the party of free enterprise, the pile-on against a Young Liberal who made the mistake of offering a semi-helpful suggestion to the housing affordability crisis is proof.”

Rundle: how to lose friends and alienate people, Spectator styleGuy Rundle: “And though all this is mostly made up of government unforced errors, it was the Speccie wot won it. What was in the 1980s one of the best-edited magazines in the world is now a spite-slum for the witlessly abusive. Even for the English, it’s a staggering amount of own goals.”

Razak’s Malaysia might be crazier than Trump’s America right nowProfessor Damien Kingsbury: “Malaysia’s political wheel hasn’t just turned, it has turned inside out: the person responsible for Ibrahim being in jail has now become his political champion.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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