Peter Dutton has unleashed on former Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg, claiming he’d “groomed” a woman 30 years younger, lashing out as he came under renewed Opposition attacks over the au pair affair and allegations he tried to get jobs for mates.
Using parliamentary privilege, Mr Dutton accused his opponents of “dirty personal attacks”, before turning on the one-time Border Force Commissioner.
Mr Dutton sacked Mr Quaedvlieg after an investigation into allegations he tried to get his partner a job within the agency.
Allegations he’d misused his ministerial powers, Mr Dutton said, were based on “lies and information of an individual”.
“This smear is coming from the former Australian Border Force Commissioner, a man I sacked,” Mr Dutton told a rowdy Parliament during Question Time.
“A man who had groomed a girl 30 years younger than himself, discredited and disgraced.”
Mr Quaedvlieg replied a short time later, tweeting: “Curious, stuttering, rambling comments.
“Grooming? Are you serious?
“Parliamentary privilege, huh?”
Mr Dutton also claimed a former staffer of Mr Quaedvlieg’s now worked for Labor leader Bill Shorten.
“(Quaedvlieg) has proved to be already discredited. He is someone the Labor Party should not rely on.
“And I think what has happened here is a lot has been promised to the Labor Party.
“And it is clear to me that Roman Quaedvlieg is your Godwin Grech.”
Mr Grech was a former Treasury official, known for his role in the “Utegate” scandal in 2009 when Malcolm Turnbull was Opposition Leader, which led in part to Mr Turnbull’s initial downfall.
Mr Grech was found to have forged an e-mail the Liberal Opposition used to try to discredit then-PM Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party, with claims of special treatment for sympathetic ALP donors.
Mr Dutton has denied any wrongdoing, saying he’d used his discretionary powers to grant visas to two au pairs based on “merit”, and had done nothing to find positions for two police officers.
Mr Quaedvlieg later released a statement, demanding Mr Dutton withdraw the comment.
He said it was “extraordinary behaviour”, and the attacks on his “character, reputation, motivations, integrity and mental health” were the result of providing evidence to a senate inquiry into the minister’s au pair decisions.
“Personal smears to the tenor of those made by Mr Dutton, with respect to his parliamentary statement today that I groomed a girl, are disgusting and offensive and I call on him to formally withdraw that comment,” he said.
He said he reserves the right to seek “recourse through the parliamentary oversight mechanisms”.
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