Scott Morrison. Pic: AAP
Scott Morrison. Pic: AAP

New bombshell rocks Dutton

THE politicians are back in Canberra today as parliament resumes.

Read on for our coverage of all the important news.

7:30pm

Peter Dutton's office has responded to the two developments from earlier this evening, blasting former Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg.

The Senate committee investigating Mr Dutton's conduct today published a new submission from Mr Quaedvlieg, dated September 7, in which he admitted some of the previous evidence he provided was wrong - but also suggested Mr Dutton had intervened in a third, previously unreported au pair case.

You can read about Mr Quaedvlieg's new submission in more detail below.

"Mr Quaedvlieg has lost his crediblity and his statement today (dated Sep 7) has no more validity than his fabricated statement from last week. He should provide the detail of the case to which he refers," a spokesperson for Mr Dutton told news.com.au this evening.

Regarding the email that was tabled in parliament this afternoon - sparking renewed claims from Labor that Mr Dutton had misled parliament - the minister's office referred us to his earlier statement to the House.

The email in question, sent by Mr Dutton's former police colleague Russell Keag, requested his help in the Brisbane au pair case.

"To the best of my knowledge I have not socialised, met with or had personal contact with the man involved, and in fact I finished work with the Queensland Police Service in July of 1999. At that time, from my recollection, there were 5500 other police officers within the Queensland Police Service," Mr Dutton told parliament today.

"No reasonable person could come to the conclusion that my professional association through working in the same large public service some 20 years ago constitutes either a personal connection or relationship."

Mr Dutton said he had no personal with Mr Keag about the au pair, and he actioned the submission "on the facts of the case before me, nothing more, nothing less".

 

6:00pm

After a couple of mercifully quiet hours, more drama has struck parliament, with two significant updates in the Peter Dutton tourist visa controversy.

First, Mr Dutton has tabled a copy of the email he was sent by his former Queensland Police colleague Russell Keag, requesting help in the Brisbane au pair case.

"Peter. Long time between calls," the email starts.

The definition of "long time" here could be important, given Mr Dutton claimed he had not met or socialised with Mr Keag in 20 years.

"Peter Dutton told the parliament he had no personal connection to the employer of a foreign au pair, but this explosive email casts further doubt over the minister's claims," Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Shayne Neumann said.

"If Peter Dutton knew the intended employer of one of these au pairs - like this email would suggest - Dutton has clearly misled parliament."

Second, former Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has written a new submission to the Senate inquiry investigating Mr Dutton's conduct, the Guardian reports.

In the submission, published by the committee today but dated September 7, he makes a fresh claim against Mr Dutton, suggesting the minister may have intervened in another, previously unreported case.

Mr Quaedvlieg previously told the commission he got a phone call from Mr Dutton's office asking him to help out the minister's "mate".

Mr Dutton labelled that allegation "entirely false" and said Mr Quaedvlieg was "bitter about the loss of his job".

In his new submission, Mr Quaedvlieg admits he could have been mistaken about the date of the call with Mr Dutton's chief of staff, but still insists it happened.

"I strongly reinforce that a conversation with Mr Craig Maclachlan, as I recounted in my letter to you, did in fact occur," he writes.

"I am willing to stake my three decades of distinguished and decorated public service on the absolute validity of that statement.

"I concede that I may have been honestly mistaken in anchoring that conversation to a date in June 2015," Mr Quaedvlieg says.

"I contend that not only is it an understandable error, but moreover renders the only logical conclusion that a second Brisbane ministerial intervention case may merit the committee's further inquiry."

Mr Quaedvlieg now says the conversation occurred at some point between October 2015 and the end of 2016.

He claims Mr Maclachlan said he was ringing "on behalf of the boss" because "the boss's mate in Brisbane" had an au pair who had been detained due to an "anomaly with her visa".

Mr Quaedvlieg says Mr Maclachlan asked him to "find out the circumstances and reasons for her detention, and the likely outcome".

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Pic: AAP
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Pic: AAP

5:00pm

They once threatened to cross the floor and vote against their own party to end live exports.

Today Liberal MPs Sussan Ley and Sarah Henderson cast the deciding votes to stop such a ban from happening.

First, Ms Ley and Ms Henderson voted against the bill - sponsored by the Greens along with crossbenchers Derryn Hinch and Tim Storer - which had passed through the Senate earlier in the day.

Then, in a moment of cruel irony, they shot down the bill they themselves had introduced back in May.

Each is a minister, and crossing the floor would have meant relinquishing their spots on the frontbench.

"Labor's actions today were a disingenuous attempt to disrupt parliament, masquerading behind the cause of animal welfare," they said in a joint statement.

"Our personal conviction on this issue remains and we will continue to advocate for a change in Coalition policy, and for a phase out of this awful trade."

Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon saw it very differently.

"Today they put their own political careers ahead of their policy convictions," he said.

3:15pm

And that's the end of a particularly rowdy Question Time. Here are the key points:

• Prime Minister Scott Morrison struggled to explain why Malcolm Turnbull was removed from the leadership;

• Labor implied three ministers - Greg Hunt, Angus Taylor and Michael Keenan - had misled the House when they said they supported Mr Turnbull during the leadership crisis;

• Mr Morrison deflected questions about the Liberal Party's treatment of women, accusing Labor of hypocrisy;

• The PM had a simple answer to demands he sack Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton: "No."

Read on for more details.

Trippy. Pic: AAP
Trippy. Pic: AAP

3:00pm

In the middle of Question Time, Peter Dutton could be spotted deep in conversation with crossbench MPs Rebekha Sharkie and Cathy McGowan.

Read into that what you will.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton talking Rebekha Sharkie and Cathy McGowan in Question Time in the House of Representatives chamber, Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton talking Rebekha Sharkie and Cathy McGowan in Question Time in the House of Representatives chamber, Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith

2:50pm

Labor has asked three different ministers - Greg Hunt, Angus Taylor and Michael Keenan - about their conflicting statements during the week of leadership turmoil that ended with Malcolm Turnbull being deposed.

The opposition seems to be implying all three men misled the House on Monday and Wednesday of that week when they stood up and said they supported Mr Turnbull - before voting for other leadership contenders on Tuesday and Friday.

Question Time got very rowdy. Picture Kym Smith
Question Time got very rowdy. Picture Kym Smith

2:40pm

Asked about the allegations of bullying of women in the Liberal Party, Mr Morrison brought up an old case - the assault of former Labor MP Peter Baldwin.

"The Labor Party, when it comes to bullying and intimidation - I remember Peter Baldwin. I remember seeing him - I'll tell you why I'm talking about Peter Baldwin, because my introduction as a young person to the Labor Party was seeing his bashed face on television," he said, saying he wasn't going to "take lectures" from Labor.

Mr Baldwin was assaulted at his home in Sydney in July of 1980. Images of his injured face shocked the nation.

No one was ever charged with the assault.

2:30pm

Greens MP Adam Bandt asked Mr Morrison about the Peter Dutton controversy, again saying the Home Affairs Minister should resign or be sacked.

"Prime Minister, hasn't the minister clearly misled parliament? Isn't this a clear breach of your ministerial standards? Will you now dismiss him?"

"No," Mr Morrison said.

2:25pm

Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek brought up the government's constant leaking, asking: "Is this what the Prime Minister meant when he said his own government was a muppet show?"

Mr Morrison provoked the loudest reaction thus far from the Liberal members behind him when he turned the question back onto Labor.

"As I said, the curtain's down on that performance. The long running performance of the muppet show on that side of the House is setting new records. We don't hold a candle when it comes to their performance. It is the longest running show in the history of the Australian parliament on that side of the house!" the PM said.

 

If the PM can’t hear what Labor is shouting, he needs a hearing aide. Pic: Kym Smith
If the PM can’t hear what Labor is shouting, he needs a hearing aide. Pic: Kym Smith

2:15pm

Bill Shorten's first question to Mr Morrison was a simple one - and tellingly, the new PM had no satisfactory answer.

"Malcolm Turnbull is no longer Prime Minister of Australia. Why?" Mr Shorten asked, as the Labor members behind him laughed.

"John Howard used to say something quite simple and that is the privilege of serving as the leader of your parliamentary party is the decision of your parliamentary party," Mr Morrison responded.

Mr Morrison said he intended to "take charge" of the government.

At the conclusion of his answer, as the House dissolved into uproar, the Speaker warned Labor's rowdier members to settle down or face ejection from the chamber.

With his next question, Mr Shorten clarified he was not asking "how" Mr Turnbull was removed but "why".

The Prime Minister answered with a list of his government's goals.

"When it comes to the why - I'll tell you why this government is doing all these things. Because we believe in a fair go for those who have a go."

Scott Morrison. Pic: Kym Smith
Scott Morrison. Pic: Kym Smith

2:10pm

Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten both delivered gracious speeches on the death of US Senator John McCain.

They each said nicer things about him than America's president, Donald Trump, ever managed.

2:05pm

Before questions begin, Scott Morrison had to announce he had been elected leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister.

His statement was almost drowned out by sounds of hilarity from the other side of the chamber.

"I congratulate him on the elevation to high office. This is a great country, a remarkable country and it's a distinct and special privilege to be elected Prime Minister," Bill Shorten said in response.

Both leaders made a point of thanking Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop for their service.

2:00pm

Question Time is about to start.

Julie Bishop and Julia Banks are sitting together on the backbench, the former wearing a bright orange blazer.

There's no missing them.

It's an awkward image for Mr Morrison, who is under pressure to respond to allegations of bullying against female MPs in his party with more vigour.

Liberal member for Chisholm Julia Banks and former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop. Pic: AAP
Liberal member for Chisholm Julia Banks and former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop. Pic: AAP

1:50pm

Outside the parliament, the frontrunner to replace Malcolm Turnbull in the Liberals' Wentworth preselection battle has withdrawn to make way for a female candidate.

Andrew Bragg had quit his gig at the Business Council of Australia to run for the seat.

"I believe the Liberal Party should preselect a woman and my withdrawal can pave the way," Mr Bragg said.

He said he was "genuinely shocked" by the allegations of bullying made by Chisolm MP Julia Banks.

Mr Bragg will now focus his efforts on the Senate.

Andrew Bragg has pulled out of the preselection battle in Wentworth.
Andrew Bragg has pulled out of the preselection battle in Wentworth.

1:40pm

Following up his leader's press conference a few minutes ago, MP Adam Bandt has unleashed on Peter Dutton in the House, accusing him of misleading parliament

"The basic rule is that when you ask them a question, they tell you what they've done, and they tell you accurately," Mr Bandt said.

"(Mr Dutton) gave us a categorical answer and he has been caught out.

"That is a clear breach of misleading the House

"It is up to the Prime Minister to take action. If the Minister for Home Affairs won't resign, the Prime Minister should sack him."

1:30pm

In half an hour, Scott Morrison will face his first Question Time as Prime Minister. That should be fun. Check back here as we cover it live.

1:25pm

In a press conference alongside Senator Larissa Waters, who was just sworn in again, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Scott Morrison should "sack" Peter Dutton.

"This is really a test, not of Peter Dutton - we know what Mr Dutton's made of - but of the Prime Minister.," Mr Di Natale said.

"If the Prime Minister's going to let Mr Dutton get away with misleading the parliament, what does that say about his government?"

Larissa Waters is back in the Senate. Pic: AAP
Larissa Waters is back in the Senate. Pic: AAP

1:10pm

Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke has alleged Peter Dutton misled the House twice during his statement on the au pair visa saga earlier today.

"The Minister for Home Affairs made a statement on indulgence, allegedly to clean up having misled the House and, in doing so, misled the House twice," Mr Burke said.

Mr Burke's argument was dismissed as irrelevant, given the bill up for debate when he made it was about family law.

Speaking on Sky News shortly afterwards, Liberal MP Tim Wilson dismissed it as an attempt to "distract" the parliament.

Cheer up Tony, maybe next time. Pic: AAP
Cheer up Tony, maybe next time. Pic: AAP

12:30pm

Bill Shorten's motion to suspend standing orders - essentially, a motion to say the government is bad - has been defeated 72-68, so all that fire and brimstone from half an hour ago ultimately came to nothing.

12:00pm

Warren Entsch has called for the alleged bullies in his party to be named.

"I am of the view you don't threaten, you do it. I think there should be zero tolerance against bullying, whether it be against male or female colleagues. I think it is unacceptable and we've seen too much of it in parliament in recent times," Mr Entsch told the ABC today.

"If there are people responsible for this type of action, I think they should be, at least, identified and counselled, if you like."

Multiple MPs have accused their colleagues of "bullying and intimidation" amid the leadership crisis last month, but have yet to point the finger at anyone in particular.

South Australian Senator Lucy Gichuhi has threatened to name the culprits in the Senate this week.

Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi. Pic: AAP
Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi. Pic: AAP

11:55am

While MPs in the House were busy shouting at each other, the Senate actually managed to do something productive, voting 31-28 to ban live sheep exports.

The ban will still need to pass through the House to come into effect. At the moment, that is an unlikely proposition.

11:35am

Bill Shorten has delivered a lengthy condemnation of the government as an increasingly rowdy House of Representatives descended into chaos.

"The last time this parliament sat, the government shut down this House because this government was unable and unwilling to govern itself," Mr Shorten said.

"The next day the government deposed the elected PM, but nobody can explain why."

The Labor leader said Australians had one question on their minds: "Why isn't Malcolm Turnbull the Prime Minister of Australia?"

Mr Morrison, who earlier called his party's leadership crisis "a muppet show", was made to rue that comment as Mr Shorten unleashed, mocking Mr Morrison's assertion that the show was over.

"It wasn't the end, it was only an intermission," the Opposition Leader said.

He wondered aloud who the Jim Henson of said muppet show was, before pointing the finger at Tony Abbott.

Mr Shorten said the leadership change was "not the end of the civil war, it was just the opening shot".

He also had a go at the Liberal Party's record on women, citing reports of "bullying and intimidation" against female MPs.

"This is a character test for the new Prime Minister. Bullies are not entitled to the protection of secrecy. They do not deserve a deliberate silence from the Prime Minister of Australia.

"The Liberal Party will not be taken seriously on the issue until you introduce quotas like the Labor Party has."

Chris Pyne rose to respond to the Mr Shorten's speech, pointing out the Labor Party had its own series of leadership changes when it was in government.

"When it comes to the Leader of the Opposition, it is particularly galling to be lectured about stability and unity," Mr Pyne said.

"I agree that the last 10 years of politics in Australia, the instability that was initiated by the Labor Party from 2007 to 2013, was the wrong way to treat the Australian public. It was the wrong way to behave."

The opposition benches were, to put it lightly, rather loud as he spoke.

Bill Shorten in parliament. Pic: AAP
Bill Shorten in parliament. Pic: AAP

11:25am

Peter Dutton has made a statement to the House, again hitting out at the allegations he used his power improperly in two au pair visa cases.

He was particularly vociferous in his denial of any personal relationship with the former police officer involved in the Queensland case.

"To the best of my knowledge, I have not socialised, met or had personal contact with the man involved," Mr Dutton said.

"From my recollection, there were 5,500 police officers in the Queensland Police Force,

no reasonable person would come to the conclusion that my professional association by working in the same vast government department ... constitutes a personal relationship."

Mr Dutton said the former police officer had written an email to his publicly available account.

"Staff members in my office asked me if I knew this person. My initial response was, 'Who?'" he said.

"At no time did I speak with the ADF Commissioner, the departmental liaison officer or any other member of the department on this matter.

"I actioned the submission on the facts of the case before me, nothing more, nothing less."

Peter Dutton addressing parliament this morning. Pic: AAP/Mick Tsikas
Peter Dutton addressing parliament this morning. Pic: AAP/Mick Tsikas

11:05am

Labor has joined with the Greens in the Senate to vote in favour of a second reading for the live sheep exports bill.

The government joined with crossbenchers Pauline Hanson and David Leyonhjelm, with three senators not voting.

The motion passed 31-27.

10:50am

Scott Morrison is trying out a new role as a financial commentator this morning.

Frank Chung reports the bank heeded Mr Morrison's warnings of an "angry" Australian public by announcing it will not follow the rest of the Big Four in jacking up rates.

"We are listening and acting differently," CEO Andrew Thorburn said today.

"We need to rebuild the trust of our customers, and by holding our NAB Standard Variable Rate longer, we help our customers for longer. By focusing more on our customers, we build trust and advocacy, and this creates a more sustainable business."

How lovely.

10:30am

There doesn't appear to be much legislation coming from the government today, but the Senate is conducting a renewed debate on banning live sheep exports.

The bill was sponsored by Derryn Hinch, Tim Storer and Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon. Mehreen Faruqi, who replaced Ms Rhiannon in the Senate, has now taken over from her.

"Today is the day to ban live exports," Ms Faruqi told the Senate.

Meanwhile another Greens Senator, Larissa Waters, has been sworn in again. She had to leave the parliament temporarily after becoming one of the first victims of the citizenship controversy.

Australian Greens Senator Larissa Waters has been sworn in again. Pic: AAP
Australian Greens Senator Larissa Waters has been sworn in again. Pic: AAP

 

10:00am

Riffing on Scott Morrison's description of the Liberal leadership shenanigans as a "muppet show", Labor MP Julian Hill performed a modified version of the Muppet Show theme song for the cameras this morning.

No words could adequately describe his efforts, so just go ahead and watch them yourself.

 

9:40am

Former prime minister Tony Abbott appeared on Ray Hadley's 2GB radio show this morning and brushed off today's Newspoll results, despite Mr Hadley's assertion that the numbers "can't get much worse".

"I don't think we should worry too much about polls, what we should focus on is performance," Mr Abbott said.

"I'm quite encouraged by what I've seen from Prime Minister Scott Morrison."

Mr Abbott cited the new PM's policies, including his focus on lowering power prices and "stopping the thugishness and lawlessness" of the CFMEU, as cause for optimism.

"I think we have a good fighting chance of winning the next election," he said.

Mr Abbott had some stern words for the NSW state Liberal government, which suffered a huge swing against it at the weekend's Wagga Wagga by-election.

He blamed the state government's "crazy" policies, such as the greyhound racing ban and its refusal to extend shark meshing.

"From time to time they do these crazy things that belong to the Greens, not to the Liberals greyhound racing ban

"You've got to put people before sharks for god's sake," he said. "That's crazy."

Tony Abbott. Pic: The Australian
Tony Abbott. Pic: The Australian

9:00am

Greenpeace protesters have made a rather creative statement outside Parliament House, scaling the flagpoles in the forecourt and erecting a banner criticising Prime Minister Scott Morrison's stance on coal.

"Get your hand off it," the sign reads, alongside an image of Mr Morrison's infamous stunt in which he brought a piece of coal to Question Time.

"Two weeks ago we saw a coal coup that successfully installed a new Prime Minister," Greenpeace Australia Pacific Program Director Dominique Rowe said.

"This is a PM who around a piece of coal gifted to him by the Minerals Council, who boasts a former deputy CEO of the Mineral Council as his chief of staff, who made a former mineral industry lawyer his environment minister and whose energy minister is an anti-wind farm activist," Ms Rowe said.

"Today he returns to parliament with literally no climate policy, which is a slap in the face to the 96 per cent of Australians who want renewable energy solutions, not coal pollution."

Mr Morrison's early weeks as Prime Minister have been dominated by promises to reduce energy prices as the top priority of this government.

The protesters outside Parliament House. They don’t appear to fear heights.
The protesters outside Parliament House. They don’t appear to fear heights.

8:40am

Labor will continue its pursuit of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton as parliament resumes today.

The opposition has obtained new legal advice saying thousands of decisions Mr Dutton has made as minister could be vulnerable to legal challenges.

It insists Mr Dutton is ineligible to sit in parliament.

"Mr Morrison should be referring Peter Dutton to the High Court of Australia because of the doubt around his eligibility to sit in this parliament," Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfuss said this morning.

"Not only have more doubts emerged about his eligibility over the course of the last week, but it's also clear that hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions made by Mr Dutton while he is ineligible to sit in parliament are cast into doubt."

Mr Dreyfuss indicated Labor would once again seek a vote in parliament to refer Mr Dutton to the High Court.

The government's numbers in the house have been reduced to 74 in Malcolm Turnbull's absence, but the total number of MPs is down to 149. For its motion to succeed, Labor will need the support of every crossbencher and one rogue government MP.

The Solicitor-General's legal advice, delivered just before Mr Turnbull was turfed from the leadership, indicated Mr Dutton was probably not ineligible, but left room for doubt.

Peter Dutton arriving at Canberra airport last night. Pic: Sean Davey.
Peter Dutton arriving at Canberra airport last night. Pic: Sean Davey.

8:20am

Today's hotly anticipated Newspoll contains mixed news for Scott Morrison - but undeniably awful figures for his government.

Mr Morrison has surged past Bill Shorten in the preferred prime minister measure to lead 42-36. Voters remain sceptical of the new PM's leadership, with 40 per cent approving and 39 per cent disapproving.

But the Coalition is currently facing a massive electoral wipe-out. The two-party vote is unchanged from the last Newspoll, with Labor maintaining a 56-44 lead.

In Malcolm Turnbull's last poll, the gap was only 51-49. The change of leadership appears to have hurt the government.

Mr Morrison - the guy who ultimately benefited from that chaos - called it a "muppet show" and told voters the party had moved on.

"The curtains have come down on that muppet show," Mr Morrison said.

Speaking to Sky News this morning, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann tried to strike an optimistic tone.

Mr Cormann said Mr Morrison's personal numbers were proof voters were "embracing" him.

Unsurprisingly, Labor was not buying that argument.

"This is a dysfunctional, divided government," said Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Pic: AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Pic: AAP


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