Malcolm Turnbull has called on Scott Morrison to “deal with” Peter Dutton after allegations that the immigration minister met the former Australian resident billionaire Huang Xiangmo after he paid $10,000 to a lobbyist.
Turnbull , who introduced foreign interference laws in 2017, said the allegations contained in a Four Corners report regarding a meeting between Dutton and Huang following a payment to former Liberal minister Santo Santoro were “very troubling”.
“The allegation is that Santo Santoro received money in return for securing privileged access to the minister on behalf of Huang Xiangmo and all of that, in circumstances where there has been rising concern about lobbyists, about foreign influence,” Turnbull said.
“Look, Peter Dutton has got a lot to explain about this.”
Earlier in the day, Morrison had defended the government’s record citing Turnbull’s foreign interference laws.
“I think when it comes to these issue, our government’s record is squeaky clean,” Morrison said.
But Turnbull said Morrison could not waive off the allegations.
“This has to be addressed at the highest level of security, priority, urgency by the prime minister,” Turnbull said.
“The buck stops with him. I know what it is like to be prime minister and, ultimately, you are responsible and so Scott Morrison has to deal with this.”
“Scott Morrison is the prime minister and you can’t wave this off and say it is all part of gossip and the bubble. This is the national security of Australia.”
Dutton rejected the allegations as a “beat up” and said he met Huang as a “significant leader in the Chinese community”.
“I met with an individual from the Chinese community and he was interested obviously in politics and other issues of the day.
“He didn’t make representations to me in relation to [citizenship] matters. As it turns out, this individual is now offshore because an agency within my department took a decision to take certain action in relation to his visa so that person wouldn’t be able to return to Australia.
“So the suggestion that somehow I’ve provided anything to this individual is just a nonsense. “