One of Australia's most controversial lawmakers, Michael Danby, is in trouble again after colleagues accused him of faking illness in order to attend a counterterrorism conference in Israel last year, according to reports in the Australian media.
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The Jewish MP belongs to the opposition Labor Party. He was on a two-week sick leave from the Australian parliament when he flew to Israel in September 2016 for an International Institute for Counter-Terrorism conference in Herzliya, on the growing threat of "global jihad."
The Australian reported that one of the weeks coincided with parliament sitting. The newspaper said that when "concerned senior colleagues called Mr. Danby’s mobile phone from Canberra during the parliamentary week to ask after his health, they were puzzled to hear 'international pips,' which suggested Mr Danby was overseas."
A few days after the conference concluded, Danby was still in Israel, where he was photographed meeting with Australian expat Arsen Ostrovsky, the head of the Israeli-Jewish Congress.
Australia's ABC News reported that Richard Di Natale, the leader of the Australian Greens, another opposition party, found Danby's actions unusual. "As a doctor I've written many medical certificates," he told the TV network. "None of the people I wrote those certificates for went off and did international travel as part of the prescription that I outlined for them."
However, Danby's boss, Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, refused to discuss the matter. "The man gave us a medical certificate," he told ABC News. "I'm not a doctor, I'm not going to start second-guessing his medical prognosis and condition."
Danby told The Australian that he had "received medical advice to take a complete break and get away. I took that advice."
"Unauthorized release of private medical information is ethically wrong," he told the newspaper. "None of us want our private health details released, especially when they’re used to distort circumstances."