Peter Dutton Is Just A Few Votes Away From Losing His Job Over The Au Pair Scandal

(everyone chanting) AU PAIRS AU PAIRS AU PAIRS

Peter Dutton Au Pairs

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The Greens and Labor need the support of just a few more MPs to pass a vote of no confidence against Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton when parliament resumes next week.

The motion will be put forward due to the controversy over a series of mysterious visa grants. As you might have heard, when he was Immigration Minister Dutton used his discretionary ministerial powers to gift three foreign au pairs Australian visas.

Two of those visas were granted in 2015, to young visitors who immigration officials suspected were going to violate their Australian tourist visas by working.

But more recently, it was revealed by The Guardian that Dutton granted an Italian au pair a visa after a request from a former police colleague.

Labor contends that Dutton has misled parliament over the au pairs scandal. In March, he told parliament that he didn’t “know these people” he had granted visas to, and that he had no personal connection to the cases.

In response to the controversy, Dutton has threatened to throw Labor MPs under the bus: he says he has a list of Labor and Greens MPs who have asked him for help with “quirky” visa issues.

“Labor can ask me 10 questions every day when we go back if that’s what they want to do, but they’ll get a whack back,” Dutton said. “To say I had some personal link or that I was acting on behalf of, you know, somebody that I was personally associated with is complete nonsense.”

The government is in a particularly vulnerable space at the moment. In the aftermath of the messy leadership change, former PM Malcolm Turnbull quit parliament, temporarily robbing the government of its majority in the House of Representatives. Additionally, Nationals MP Kevin Hogan moved to the crossbench in protest of the spill.

The Guardian reports that a number of crossbenchers could support the bill. Andrew Wilkie is already on board, and Cathy McGowan and Rebekha Sharkie could side with the motion.

If that were the case, then Labor and the Greens would only need two more votes when parliament resumes next week to hand the government a stunning loss.

It’s extremely rare for motions of no confidence to succeed in the House, because the Government commands a majority. If the motion did succeed, it’s not entirely clear what the consequences would be.

Dutton would not be compelled to actually do anything, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison might feel that he has to act by stripping Dutton of his powerful Home Affairs portfolio, forcing him to the backbench.

It seems likely that Dutton will try to fight his way out of the scandal, potentially setting up a showdown between him and the man who beat him for the top job, Morrison.

It would come at a particularly bad time for the government, which is trying to present a unified front following the absolute clusterfuck that was last month’s leadership spill.