Thursday, 18 February 2021
Questions without Notice
Donations to Political Parties
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Reynolds. Did Minister Dutton disclose to the Prime Minister that he received a political donation from the National Retail Association a week before he asked the Department of Home Affairs to fast-track the consideration of the association's almost $1 million grant? If not, why not?
by leave—If the minister is not in a position to deal with this then perhaps, if Senator Chisholm wishes, he could address the question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister.
Did Minister Dutton disclose to the Prime Minister that he received a political donation from the National Retailers Association a week before he asked the Department of Home Affairs to fast track a consideration of the association's almost $1 million grant? If not, why not?
I know that these issues have been explored in this place with Senator Reynolds, as well as in the other place, during the course of the week. There seems to be a desperate attempt to seek to draw some connection that just does not exist in this regard. The National Retailers Association has donated to both sides of politics. The Labor member for Griffith received donations from the National Retailers Association in the same financial year as Mr Dutton's campaign.
My point of order is on direct relevance. The issue is not a political donation in its own right; the issue is a political donation being made to somebody who then fast tracks consideration of a taxpayer grant—a taxpayer grant. I'd ask the minister to be directly relevant to the question.
Thanks, Mr President. The National Retailers Association applied for funding, I'm advised, for a protecting crowded places project to assist retailers to deter, detect, delay and respond to a terrorist attack. Noting the events that had occurred—
Senator Keneally interjecting—
I do not accept the interjections from Senator Keneally in relation to the notion of a conflict. Mr Dutton processed this application from the National Retailers Association in accordance with normal practices.
I'm confident that Mr Dutton will have met all disclosure requirements in relation to donations or in relation to any other commitments in relation to the ministerial standards and expectations set around the ministerial standard. Mr Dutton, I'm advised, in relation to the grant asked the Department of Home Affairs to consider the proposal by the National Retailers Association that had been lodged by them and I understand he asked the Department of Finance to cost it to ensure it was suitable and value for money. It was a proposal to simply make sure that Australians, in a retail environment—
My point of order goes to direct relevance. I accept that this is a question that has been directed to the Leader of the Government in the circumstances. On both this one and on the primary question that went to disclosure to the Prime Minister, I'd ask him either to be directly relevant or, if he is not in a position to do so, to take those issues on notice because they go directly to the issue we are asking about—whether these issues were disclosed to the Prime Minister.
I'm happy to provide clarification on points of fact to the chamber and will seek to do so. But it is also a point of fact that Mr Dutton went through proper processes in receipt of the grant application from the National Retailers Association in costing it properly— (Time expired)
I will take the question on notice insofar as there are any details that need to be provided to the chamber about grant process disclosures that have been made. I am quite confident that Mr Dutton has met all disclosure obligations under political fundraising guidelines, that he will have met ministerial standards around disclosures that are required to be met and most particularly that, in administering public funds as a minister of the Crown, he has sought to deliver good public policy outcomes for Australia. Those good public policy outcomes for Australia include keeping Australians safe, be they in crowded places, in retail environments or in the types of locations that are crucially important in terms of the number of Australians who congregate, the threat to Australians and the importance of ensuring that businesses are well equipped to operate in safe environments and localities.