Kristina Keneally has accused Peter Dutton of « canceling » her trip to Christmas Island at the last minute in a series of angry tweets, describing the move as « pathetic ».
Labor Senator Ms. Keneally said Mr Dutton canceled her trip to a Tamil family arrested in 2018. Just over 20 minutes after she was given permission by the Australian border guards, Mr Dutton blocked her access.
It’s a bad day for Mr Dutton, who was trending on Wednesday night after questions arose about why scantily clad twerkers were used to start up a warship.
The new defense minister was facing « a revolt on the high seas » over the « inappropriate » dancers, according to the Daily Telegraph.
At the same time, the national auditor has opened an investigation into a controversial funding program that is being overseen by Mr Dutton.
The former interior minister has cut billions in budgeted funding from organizations recommended for grants and passed the money on to his own handpicked recipients, according to ABC.
Labor asked the Auditor General to take a look at the Safer Communities Fund, which Mr Dutton was overseeing after alleging the program was used to target border seats.
The National Audit Office (ANAO) confirmed it was considering the move in March and wrote to Labor Senator Ms. Keneally on Wednesday to confirm that an audit was ongoing.
Two hours later, Ms. Keneally learned of her trip, which Tasmanian Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk described as « the quickest decision ever made ».
The Frontbencher sent a series of Twitter posts confirming that Mr Dutton had canceled their trip to visit the Tamil family arrested in 2018 after being denied a visa that would have allowed them to to stay in Australia.
A spokesman for the Australian border guards told news.com.au: « Questions about travel arrangements are not a matter for the Australian border guards. »
The Sri Lankan family was relocated to Christmas Island in 2019. Nades and Priya Murugappan came to Australia by boat in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
They settled in Biloela, a town of about 6,000 people in central Queensland, and started a family with Kopika (now 5) and Tharunicaa (3).
Although their daughters were born in Australia, their parents’ immigration status also made the two girls « unauthorized arrivals at sea, » the ruling said.
This clip from today shows that @KKeneally has received unequivocal permission from ABF to see the Biloela family on Christmas Island. Why did Dutton cancel the plane hours later? # Hometobilopic.twitter.com / BdeI2ssWrC
Since then, they have been waiting in custody to find out the outcome of a federal court battle to avoid deportation.
In February the court ruled that their fight was a success and the family could stay in Australia for the time being.
You will stay on Christmas Island, an Australian territory that is home to an immigration detention center.
The then Home Office said it was aware of the decision and was considering the implications.
« The Australian government’s policy is clear. Nobody who tries to travel to Australia illegally by sea will be resettled here, » a statement said.
« The family’s allegations of invoking Australia’s protection obligations have been extensively examined on multiple occasions by the Home Office, various merit review bodies, and challenged in the High Court by multiple courts, including the federal court.
The family remains in custody as only the immigration minister can apply for a visa and allow them to return to Biloela.
Ms. Keneally supported the family and their plight on their return home and confirmed on Wednesday that at 4:50 p.m. the Australian border guards gave her permission to visit the detention center on Christmas Island and to hang out with Priya, Nades and the children to meet.
Yes I am. I asked @AusBorderForce for permission to visit the #hometobilo family. https://t.co/dY1CxY4tH8
BREAKING: 4:50 pm – @AusBorderForce confirms my permission to visit the #hometobilo family 5:12 am – I get an email: « The Minister of Defense has determined that the special aircraft can no longer be made available to the committee. » Dutton canceled the trip. https://t.co/gGOSwAhUdj
But just 22 minutes later, she claims she received an email from Mr Dutton who has ended the trip.
« The defense minister has determined that the special aircraft can no longer be made available for the committee’s trip, » the email said.
It’s really appalling that @PeterDutton_MP blocked the trip @KKeneally planned to visit Tharni and Kopi. We will not forget that these girls have been incarcerated and counted for 1,134 days, or that you could have given them their freedom and did whatever you could not to. pic.twitter.com/P4066vfLEm
Obviously no coincidence and ready to ask a few parliamentary questions at the same time that are important for the CI and Cocos & Keeling communities. What a shame! https://t.co/RX93KCFX8i
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