Dutton faces another week of questions


Peter Dutton faces another week of pressure and questions about his eligibility to sit in federal parliament.

The Home Affairs Minister has been under intense scrutiny for almost a month because of his family’s financial interest in two childcare centres.

Section 44 of the constitution disqualifies anyone who has a “direct or indirect pecuniary interest” in any agreement with the Commonwealth.

The calls for Mr Dutton to be referred to the High Court have been growing louder from all corners of politics.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who Mr Dutton attempted to push out of the top job before being replaced by Scott Morrison, tweeted from New York on Thursday that it should happen.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has been urging more coalition MPs to “ventilate their feelings” about the situation.

During the Liberal leadership crisis, Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue advised that he could not categorically determine Mr Dutton’s status and only the High Court could.

Mr Dutton told parliament on Thursday the advice he has taken in relation to his position has “put the question beyond doubt”.

But constitutional law expert Anne Twomey told The Australian on Saturday that the solicitor-general’s opinion brought up information that “raised considerably the risk of disqualification”.

Mr Shorten said there needed to be clarity about Mr Dutton’s position.

“This is not just Labor saying there’s a cloud over the eligibility of a senior minister – it’s now Malcolm Turnbull, it’s now Julie Bishop,” Mr Shorten told ABC TV’s Insiders program.

“The advice … doesn’t give a 100 per cent guarantee and having learnt the hard way myself, you’re better removing all ambiguity and submitting it to the High Court.”

Greens MP Adam Bandt has been speaking to Liberal MPs about voting to refer Mr Dutton to the High Court, and the Greens believe support is rising.

Mr Bandt threatened to move a no-confidence motion against Mr Dutton for misleading parliament last week.

© AAP 2018


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