House debates

Monday, 10 September 2018

Statements on Indulgence

Minister for Home Affairs

11:23 am

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

Since the House last sat, the member for Melbourne has made a serious allegation against me. He's claimed that I misled parliament in response to his question on 27 March 2018. The claim is completely false and this is my first chance to address the chamber on the matter. On 26 March 2018, the shadow minister for immigration asked me a question, asserting I had granted a visa for a person to be employed by me and by my wife as a nanny. That is completely false. On 27 March, the member for Melbourne, after a short preamble, asked me:

Can you categorically rule out any personal connection or any other relationship between you and the intended employer of either of the au pairs?

There are two points to make here. My answer was in the context of the baseless allegation about the employment of this person by my family, as my answer on that date states. As I stated on 27 March, I did not have a personal connection or any type of relationship with the people involved in these matters.

Secondly, and in regard to the matters which have been referred to as the Adelaide matter, as I've stated previously, to the best of my knowledge I've never met the visa holder or anyone else involved in the matter. I would also like to put the following on the record in regard to that particular matter. The representation was received by my office, specifically my chief of staff, from an AFL government relations officer. My chief of staff requested information regarding the matter from the department. The department compiled a submission, including all relevant information, as was provided in evidence to the Senate inquiry hearing last week. On the front page of that submission was a recommendation to intervene. I actioned the submission on the facts of the case before me.

In regard to the other matter, which has been referred to as the Brisbane matter, to the best of my knowledge I have not socialised with, met with or had personal contact with the man involved. I finished work with the Queensland Police Service in July 1999. At that time, from my recollection, there were 5,500 police officers in the Queensland Police Service. He does not have my personal phone number or my personal email address. The use of terms such as personal connection or relationship, as used by the member for Melbourne in his question, signify a much closer relationship between two people than working in the same organisation two decades ago and not speaking to each other since that time. 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 a personal connection or relationship.

I also put on the record the following in regard to the matter. The individual did not have contact with me in regard to this matter. He wrote an email to my publicly available email account, which can be accessed by anyone online. That email account is monitored by my staff. A staff member in my office asked me whether I knew this person. My initial response was, 'Who?' As is the case in any of these matters, my staffer asked for information from the department to examine the facts. The staff member in my office then sought further information through the DLO. At no time did I speak with the ABF commissioner, the departmental liaison officer or any other member of the department regarding this matter. In fact, as has become public over the last few days, despite his evidence otherwise, no-one in my office spoke with the ABF commissioner on this matter. Any statements made by current or former departmental officials are not informed by any communication with me. The department then compiled a submission which, as was provided in evidence to the Senate inquiry hearing last week, on the front page states as the recommendation to intervene in that matter. I actioned the submission on the facts of the case before me, nothing more, nothing less.