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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 43


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (15:30): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance and the Public Service (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator McKim today relating to the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Dutton).

Minister Dutton once again finds himself in the crosshairs. I'll tell you what: he's becoming a living, breathing argument in favour of a federal anticorruption authority. The litany of sins that Mr Dutton has perpetrated on innocent men, women and children in offshore detention in Manus Island and Nauru is well known. I remind senators that there are innocent children right now, some of whom have not known a day's freedom in their lives, who are in a catatonic state, withdrawn from life, not eating, not drinking and not toileting themselves, because Minister Dutton will not let them back into Australia to receive the care that they so desperately need.

We know he's under a cloud because of issues surrounding section 44 of the Australian Constitution. We know he's under a cloud because, on at least three occasions that we know of, he intervened to overturn properly arrived at decisions of Australian Border Force officers, releasing people who were intending to work as au pairs in Australia from immigration detention at airports and allowing them into this country on tourist visas.

Overnight, it has become apparent that he has been involved in a jobs-for-the-boys scandal. I mean, seriously, Mr President, you could not make a movie about this stuff and be believed. In one of these cases, we know that Minister Dutton intervened with former ABF Commissioner, Mr Quaedvlieg, to ensure that one of Minister Dutton's mates from his Queensland police days got a job in the ABF. Then, that very same person was transferred from the ABF into Minister Dutton's office to work as his departmental liaison officer. And then that person became the conduit through which yet another one of Minister Dutton's mates operated in order to get Minister Dutton to overturn a properly arrived at decision by an ABF official regarding the detention and refusal to enter this country of someone who was intending to work as an au pair. This is a jobs-for-the-boys scandal. This is service for mates. It's an absolute disgrace.

This minister is in charge of just about every major federal security and immigration authority in the country, including the Australian Border Force, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO. He has sweeping powers, including sweeping powers to deport people, which we know he has used inappropriately and illegally. He is basically a law unto himself, and the way he's lashed out at others, including Mr Quaedvlieg and including in the House of Representatives only minutes ago this afternoon, shows that he is unfit to hold the high public office that he holds. He is a living, breathing argument for the establishment of a Commonwealth anticorruption authority.

We've seen, through Minister Dutton's actions, the spirit of Joh Bjelke-Petersen living on and the tin ear of Joh Bjelke-Petersen living on. The unique blend of authoritarianism and dictatorship and abuse of power that Mr Bjelke-Petersen became known for lives on in the person of Mr Dutton in the Liberal-National Party in Queensland. I'm sure I speak on behalf of all decent Australians who thought, or at least hoped, that the Fitzgerald inquiry would have gotten rid of all the rotten eggs within Queensland politics and law enforcement. But today we find that kind of rubbish is still going strong. Minister Dutton should resign, and, if he won't resign his commission, Prime Minister Morrison should sack him.

Question agreed to.