Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has narrowly avoided facing a no-confidence motion in parliament.
On Thursday, Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt moved a motion to suspend standing orders, following the verdict of a Senate inquiry on Wednesday night.
The Labor/Greens-dominated inquiry found Mr Dutton misled Parliament by denying he had personal connections to the families wanting to host two women he released from immigration detention.
“It is the view of the committee that Minister Dutton had a clear personal connection and existing relationship with the intended employer of the au pair in the Brisbane case,” the report concluded.
“Given his definitive answer in the House of Representatives, it is the view of the committee the minister misled parliament in relation to this matter.”
With Labor voting in support of Mr Bandt’s motion, it was defeated by just one vote – 68-67.
Mr Dutton is adamant he followed the rules in using his ministerial powers to approve visas for two au pairs in 2015, and had no personal connection with the people who sought the approval.
In March, Greens MP Adam Bandt asked Mr Dutton whether he could rule out “any personal connection or any other relationship between you and the intended employer of either of the au pairs”.
“The answer is yes,” Mr Dutton responded. “I don’t know these people.”
Mr Bandt said Mr Dutton had lied.
“He stood up in this chamber with full knowledge of who I was referring to and said ‘No. I do not know them’,” he told parliament.
The best the Minister has come up with is a Bill Clinton-style defence, where personal connection apparently doesn’t mean personal connection.”
Mr Bandt said Mr Dutton was no longer fit to sit on the Government’s front bench.
“This is not about whether you agree with the Government’s border policy … this is not about whether in fact you even agree with the decisions the Minister has made,” he said.
“This is about whether ministers in this Government can be trusted to tell the truth to the House.”
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie was furious at Mr Dutton for saying he intervened for the au pairs on humanitarian grounds.
Mr Wilkie cited numerous times when the Federal Court intervened to grant refugees in offshore detention access to medical treatment they had previously been denied in Australia.
“It wasn’t OK for him to intervene for the transfer of a 10-year-old boy who attempted suicide three times and needed surgery,” he said in parliament.
“There is no integrity for claiming humanitarian reasons for bringing nannies into the country for his mates once or twice removed.”
Leader of the House Christopher Pyne defended Mr Dutton, praising him for his “world class approach” to stopping terrorism in Australia.
“There has not been one shred of evidence presented by the Labor Party or the Greens as to why this motion of no confidence should be carried.”
Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said the key principle was ministers should not mislead the parliament.
Earlier, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had backed Mr Dutton in an interview with the Nine Network.
“The Labor Party is going on about stopping the au pairs. We are about stopping boats, bikies and criminal gangs,” he said.
“If the Labor Party thinks that the worst thing that can happen in Australia is that an au pair will come and read a bedtime story, that tells you what they think of national security.”