ABC Radio Melbourne with Jon Faine

SUBJECTS: Peter Dutton’s eligibility to sit in Parliament



SUBJECTS: Peter Dutton’s eligibility to sit in Parliament
FAINE: Mark Dreyfus, good morning to you.
MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Good morning Jon, thanks for having me.
FAINE: Is the Labor party now going to try again with Malcolm Turnbull’s urging?
DREYFUS: We’re going to consider our options but our preference is for Mr Morrison to show some integrity and some leadership and refer Mr Dutton to the High Court to clear this matter up. Seriously, why is Scott Morrison so afraid of Peter Dutton? I think, probably people do know the answer to that.
It’s an extraordinary state of affairs Jon and it’s essential that the Constitution be respected. We’ve got Mr Morrison making light of it this morning; he says that it’s just a lawyer’s picnic. It’s no lawyer’s picnic. You cannot make light of the Constitution. This is about the legitimacy of our Parliament; it’s about making sure that a very senior minister, when he makes decisions, is not making invalid decisions, because section 64 of the Constitution will cause a problem if he was not eligible to be sitting in Parliament. It’s essential that this go to the High Court. I do agree with Malcolm Turnbull when he says why one law for one person and another for Peter Dutton?
FAINE: Mr Turnbull voted not to refer Peter Dutton to the High Court when the matter was last debated, why should we take any notice of the fact that he’s had a change of heart?
DREYFUS: At that point, he didn’t have the Solicitor-General’s advice that was obtained the following day. The Solicitor-General’s made it absolutely clear that there is doubt about this position that can only be cleared up by the High Court. The Solicitor-General said that he has been given very little facts with which to provide his opinion and let’s also bear in mind that the failure to refer, the refusal to refer was only carried by one vote, Peter Dutton’s vote.
FAINE: Sure, If Mr Turnbull hadn’t had a dummy spit and left the Parliament in high dudgeon he could have been in the Parliament to vote with you.
DREYFUS: Well, he’s now resigned. So that’s not a situation we have to worry about.
FAINE: No, but we add it to a long list of politicians who once they’re out of Parliament start saying that all sorts of things should happen which they declined to do when they were in the Parliament.
DREYFUS: We think it’s essential that Peter Dutton be referred, he should refer himself. If he won’t refer himself, Mr Morrison should accept that he should be referred and support a referral. When Barnaby Joyce was referred to the High Court, the Solicitor-General had expressed an opinion that Barnaby Joyce was in fact eligible - that proved to be wrong. But to clear the matter up, to put the matter beyond doubt, it was sent to the High Court and that’s what should occur this time too.
FAINE: In which case, if Mr Morrison does that, he potentially loses his majority, even before the Wentworth by-election. It’s not going to happen is it?
DREYFUS: I think the Constitution comes first.
FAINE: Okay.
DREYFUS: I think we’ve got to respect the Constitution. I think we’ve got to respect the rule of law. We can’t have a senior minister sitting in the Parliament making decisions. He’s the National Security Minister Jon. He makes hundreds of decisions and they need to be beyond doubt; valid. That won’t happen while there is the continuing doubt over his eligibility to even sit in the Parliament.
FAINE: Thank you for your time on this issue yet again this morning.