Dutton to face parliamentary pile on
PETER Dutton will be defending himself on two fronts today as Labor uses parliament to attack his decisions and eligibility to be a minister.
The Opposition will demand the Home Affairs Minister send himself to the High Court to determine he is constitutional qualifications to sit in Parliament.
It is warning that past decisions by Mr Dutton could be in doubt unless Mr Dutton's status under the Constitution is formally confirmed.
And Labor will question how Mr Dutton three years ago used his intervention powers to overturn visa decisions by immigration officials.
The strategy adds to the expectation of conflict as parliament returns for the first time since the removal of Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister and Mr Dutton's failure to replace him.
"They're in a mess at the moment. Anyone who predicts how this week is going to go is very brave," said Labor's Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke said today of the Government.
New Prime Minister Scott Morrison is determined to concentrate on his own agenda and is mobilising a platoon of ministers to make small business the focus of job generation.
Mr Morrison will today meet executives of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia and has instructed four other ministers to consult the small and medium sized business sector.
They include Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O'Dwyer, Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash, and Energy Minister Angus Taylor.
Malcolm Turnbull's departure from parliament means the government would have to rely on the casting vote of Speaker Tony Smith should it face a combined vote of Labor and the cross bench in the House of Representatives.
However, that is unlikely to happen this week when Mr Smith is expected to announce the timing for a by-election in Mr Turnbull's seat of Wentworth.
The opposition has other ways to make life uncomfortable for the government.
Mr Burke, Labor's parliamentary strategy chief, today made clear the government would not be able to ignore its leadership turmoil or the controversy around Mr Dutton.
He told ABC radio Labor wanted Mr Dutton to refer himself to the High Court to determine whether he had breached section 44 of the Constitution.
This relates to Commonwealth subsidies to two child care centres owned by Mr Dutton and his wife. This could be interpreted as a monetary interest in a public service, breaching the Constitution
But the matter is by no means clear and Mr Dutton has arranged to have his interests in the business placed in a trust to distance himself from its operation.
Mr Burke said Labor had legal advice to the effect that Dutton's past ministerial decisions could be contested.
"He's made important decisions in a series of decisions that do have broad support across the Parliament and across the broad Australian community that we don't want overturned," he said.
"Why on earth they are taking a risk with this is beyond me."