Linda Reynolds backed by Scott Morrison
“She’s doing a great job and I have great confidence in the work that she’s doing,” he said on Thursday morning. “I thank those colleagues, whether from the government or elsewhere, that have expressed their support for Linda and she certainly has mine.”
The emergency led Senator Reynolds to cancel a speech to the National Press Club three hours before it was due to start, while also asking her cardiologist to speak to Mr Morrison to assure him about her condition. She now will not have to face questions in Parliament until March 15.
Further questions have been raised about the government’s handling of the allegations after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton revealed in Parliament the Australian Federal Police told him of the case on February 11. The response raised more questions about when the government knew of the case, given statements that Mr Morrison’s office took media queries about it on February 12 and that the Prime Minister himself did not know until February 15.
In a television interview on Thursday morning, the Home Affairs Minister said he decided not to tell Mr Morrison about the case on the day he found out about it, even though he passed on information “as a courtesy” the next day.
“I deemed it not to be appropriate to provide information to the Prime Minister on the 11th,” Mr Dutton told the Nine Network.
Mr Dutton said he asked his chief of staff to pass the information to the Prime Minister’s office on February 12.
He later told reporters the information from the AFP commissioner was “a high level, more around the process than the detail of the alleged offence”.
“I think the Prime Minister has been very clear about his frustration and anger at the fact that he wasn’t provided with information earlier by his office,” he said.
Mr Morrison said Mr Dutton’s had acted in line with his usual operational practice.
“If any agency… believed that the Prime Minister must be directly briefed on such a matter then they will arrange that briefing. And the Minister for Home Affairs operates under that understanding,” he said.
There had been many conversations across government this past week about how the allegations were handled both in March 2019 and this month, including several discussions in cabinet, Mr Morrison said.
Katina Curtis is a political reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra.