Dutton fires up over ‘dirt file’ threat
AS HIS political life hangs in the balance, Peter Dutton has backtracked on a threat he made yesterday to release a dirt file on the opposition.
Yesterday, the Home Affairs Minister told reporters he's been keeping tabs on Labor MPs who have sought his help, saying: "I've got a series of cases that have been put to me by Labor members - and I've kept a very good list actually of MPs who have come to me with quirky cases."
But quizzed about these claims by David Koch today, he clarified that it wasn't a "dirt" list.
"It is not a dirt list," he said on Sunrise. "It is just the reality of the representations I get. I get hundreds of representations per month. I look through them, and some cases where the department has advised against reinstatement of the visa, then obviously the department cancels the visa.
"If I can see common sense in reinstating that, then I do. Particularly where you have sick kids or parents or someone has had a stroke or a medical condition.
"My point is this, the Labor Party have made plenty of representation, so don't make out that I get around outside of the rules, which I don't.
"Some of the latest representations relate to unions that have made donations to the Labor Party, so I'm hardly going to take a morals lecture from Bill Shorten."
Koch replied: "I am fascinated that you have used your powers and granted those applications but then made a note about it and stuck it in the file."
"I think it is written to make a record of cases where you have been asked to intervene," responded Mr Dutton. "Chris Bowen writes to me dozens of times each week on particular constituent matters. It is appropriate for local members to make representations on behalf of their members and I take him on face value - I don't know whether these are personal friends or family friends or donators to the Labor Party."
During yesterday's press conference, Mr Dutton singled out Mr Bowen as someone who asked his assistance with "quirky" immigration matters.
"Chris Bowen has written to me hundreds of times asking me to intervene in matters. Now, has he got a personal connection with any of those people? You would need to ask him that," Mr Dutton said.
Mr Bowen slammed the suggestion made by Mr Dutton, as well as his threat of a damaging list.
"Of course I have made representations on behalf of my constituents," Mr Bowen said.
"That is my job. I can confirm that at no stage have I made any representations on behalf of au pairs at airports who are pretty clearly in breach of the rules. And neither did I, during my three years as immigration minister, approve any."
Mr Dutton's political life currently hangs in the balance, with the Greens and Labor seeking to move a motion of no confidence in Mr Dutton when parliament resumes next week.
Since his failed attempt to take the prime ministership from Malcolm Turnbull two weeks ago, the Home Affairs Minister has come under fire over his use of ministerial discretion in granting tourist visas to au pairs, including one working for his former police colleague.
Asked about the colleague, Mr Dutton this morning acknowledged they worked together in 1998 and 1999.
"I left the Queensland Police after 10 years of service in 1999. He did not have my mobile phone number, my email address and sent the request to have a look at this case through my Facebook page - or through my publicly available email address.
"There is no personal link there. I have not socialised with them. Have any recollection of having seen him in 20 years. I've done that and that is it."
Speaking in parliament yesterday, Greens MP Adam Bandt said Mr Dutton has a lot to answer for.
"Peter Dutton has failed to explain why he misled parliament and now he must go," he said.
He said Mr Dutton misled parliament by saying he had no personal connection to the cases.
"Peter Dutton has been caught out, he has no explanation and if he won't resign, parliament should make it clear it has no confidence in him," the Greens MP said.