Malcolm Turnbull still wants Peter Dutton’s eligibility assessed

Malcolm Turnbull still wants Peter Dutton’s eligibility assessed
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (left) and former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton (right). Photo by Department of Immigration and Border Protection via Wikimedia Commons

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has tweeted urging his successor, Scott Morrison, to refer Peter Dutton’s eligibility to the High Court.

This marks Malcolm Turnbull’s first interaction with politics since the Liberal leadership spill that saw him replaced by Scott Morrison.

Mr Turnbull travelled all the way to Manhattan, New York shortly after being sacked from the country’s top job, but that hasn’t stopped him from weighing in on the eligibility of Peter Dutton, the man who originally prompted the original leadership spill that Turnbull narrowly won.

The former Liberal leader is making it harder for the Government to distance itself from the chaotic leadership crisis in which allegations of intimidation and bullying were rife.

Regarding the tweet, Mr Dutton told 2GB radio that now that Mr Turnbull has retired he should not comment on politics publicly. He said that Mr Turnbull had never discussed any issue of his eligibility until the very week of the leadership spill.

Labor has also targeted Mr Dutton over the issue of his eligibility to sit in parliament, citing that two childcare centres he has stakes in received commonwealth subsidies. Under parliamentary rules, a MP cannot benefit financially from the Government.

Three weeks ago, a vote to refer Mr Dutton the High Court failed to pass by a single vote.

If another vote was held, former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that she would decide “at the time” how she would vote. She added that each MP had a “personal responsibility” to ensure that they are eligible to serve in Australia’s parliament.

Despite be urged by Malcolm Turnbull to investigate the matter, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated there is little political will for another vote on whether to send Mr Dutton the High Court.

The legal opinion of the Solicitor-General, Stephen Donaghue QC, was that Mr Dutton was probably still eligible to sit in Parliament, but he admitted that the High Court may interpret the matter differently.

It appears that the majority of Parliament is happy to sit with that verdict for now.