Failed leadership challenger Peter Dutton is already facing heat over his intervention in two visa cases, and now it seems that Labor is looking to restart the discussions over Dutton’s eligibility to remain in parliament.
In both cases Dutton denies any wrongdoing. But this only left the opposition demanding answers from Dutton on both matters. Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek led charge, telling reporters in Melbourne:
‘It looks like he’s got a good business in child care and he seems to have a sideline in au pairs as well.’
Granted, Mr Dutton was found ‘not incapable’ of sitting in parliament by the solicitor general, but stated there was ‘some risk’ of a conflict of interest.
Despite this, Mr Dutton vigorously denies being in breach of section 44 (v) of the constitution, which bars politicians profiting from the Commonwealth.
His family trust, of which Mr Dutton is the beneficiary, profits in two Brisbane childcare centres that receive government subsidies.
Legal advice released by Mr Dutton claims he is not in breach of the constitution on the basis that the subsidies are given by law which affects centres nationwide, as opposed to an individual agreement.
A revelation in the Dutton eligibility debate
Yet, a new document shows an agreement between the Federal Government having funded a special needs teacher at one of the centres, where a child on the Autism spectrum attended.
According to the ABC, the letter said:
‘This Approval letter, together with the Conditions of Funding, make up the agreement between the Commonwealth and You in relation to how the IDF subsidy, for which you have been approved, will be used.’
This was reason enough for Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to claim that the letter carried a lot of backing for Labor’s demands to pass the matter over to the high court to determine his eligibility.
And it led Mr Dreyfus to tell Melbourne reporters that:
‘This further document that’s come to light makes it clear that there is an agreement between Mr Dutton’s childcare centres and the Commonwealth, and that’s why there is, we think it’s clear, a breach of section 44 of the constitution.’
Mr Dutton wasn’t overly concerned about the merit of the letter, given that it was regarding the specialist care for a child with needs at the centre.
‘I don’t think that we’re even going to question of what the purpose of the Commonwealth funds is,’ he said.
Nonetheless, Labor continued its headhunt of Mr Dutton.
‘The prohibition in the constitution is absolutely clear,’ said Dreyfus.
‘If Mr Dutton, as a Member of Parliament, has a direct or indirect interest in a contract with the Commonwealth, then he is ineligible.’
And with all this noise surrounding politics at the moment, it makes you question what our politicians have really been up to. It seems that all their focus lends to themselves, and not their constituents.
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