Malcolm Turnbull urges Liberal colleagues to refer Dutton to High Court
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Liberal Party colleagues to refer Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court to clear up questions about his eligibility.
Mr Turnbull tweeted overnight from New York:
The point I have made to @ScottMorrisonMP and other colleagues is that given the uncertainty around Peter Dutton’s eligibility, acknowledged by the Solicitor General, he should be referred to the High Court, as Barnaby was, to clarify the matter.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) September 12, 2018
The tweet comes after reports surfaced in the media, and is the first major intervention in Australian politics since he was controversially ousted in a leadership spill nearly three weeks ago.
When asked about Mr Turnbull’s tweet on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Morrison confirmed the two had spoken last week, but that he would not support a referral.
“Someone once told me in this job, all contributions should be gratefully received. They are,” Mr Morrison said.
“But as the prime minister, I’ll obviously make the decisions in relation to our government on what I believe is in the national interest, based on the most recent and most timely information that I have available to me.”
He went on to point out that a Labor motion to refer Mr Dutton had already been defeated on the floor of the House of Representatives.
“I think people have had enough of the lawyers’ picnics on these sort of issues, and they want us to focus completely and totally on what the nation needs, here and now,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Dutton is facing questions about his stake in a trustee company that operates two childcare centres.
The centres receive subsidies that were legislated by the Turnbull Government, although the money is designed to pay for the services for the children.
The opposition and Mr Dutton have provided conflicting advice; and while the Solicitor-General, Stephen Donaghue, said the Home Affairs Minister was likely okay, that it was “impossible to state the position with certainty”.
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