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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 65


Senator McCARTHY (Northern Territory) (15:15): Every question was about parliamentarians, and there are reasons for that. These are legitimate questions that go to the heart of the capability—or incapability—of this government to govern for the people of Australia in a way that is filled with integrity. That goes to the heart of the issues that affect the people of Australia. The former deputy leader of the Liberal Party has stood up today and raised very serious questions about a minister, Peter Dutton, and his eligibility to be in the cabinet, to represent the people of Dickson and to continue to be paid as a member of the House of Representatives. That is a very serious question that is being asked not only by the former deputy leader of the Liberal Party but also by the former Prime Minister of this country, who only two weeks ago was leading this nation, but all of a sudden it's, 'Let's not have a look at this; that's old news.' It's not old news; it is very critical news. There is a doubt as to the eligibility of a minister in the Morrison government to be in this parliament, and it is our job as the opposition and as other members in the Senate to critically question and analyse all of that.

As Senator Farrell has said, we didn't raise this today because we just wanted to; we raised it because a member of your government raised it and a former member of your government—Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as he was then—raised it. Therefore, we have to look at this. When even the Solicitor-General's advice shows there is a risk with Peter Dutton's eligibility, we should be pursuing the fact that this has to go to the High Court. His eligibility to stand in the parliament is under question, it is under a cloud, and every single decision that he makes and even every single decision that he has already made are under a serious cloud.

Over the last 18 months many senators and members—yes, some after lots of deliberation—have chosen to go to the High Court for clarity. It is the right thing to do for Peter Dutton to stand up now and say, 'I will go to the High Court to have this clarified.' It is the right thing to do to remove that doubt and send a clear message to all Australians that we in this parliament do take this seriously and that decisions made in cabinet are being made by people who are eligible to be there. That is what is in question. Instead we see blame-shifting, a blame game—'Nothing to see here'—and the Australian people are sick of it. They're fed up with it.

You have unfinished business in that cabinet. Peter Dutton needs to refer himself to the High Court. There is no other question here other than whether he is eligible to be sitting there as the member for Dickson in the cabinet, making decisions on behalf of the Morrison government, representing the people of Australia. There is way too much doubt. When you have constitutional legal experts also raising that, the doubt is very clear. So it's not about the opposition playing games here. We are doing what we have to do—that is, keeping you accountable to make sure you are doing the right thing for the people of Australia.