The Unprecedented Storm Hitting Peter Dutton
Multiple issues could lead to him being forced from parliament altogether
A month ago, Peter Dutton was flying high as the most powerful minister in the government, and tipped as the next PM as the sharks circled Malcolm Turnbull.
Fast forward to today, and Dutton is a vastly diminished figure in parliament, having squandered his big chance to take the top job, having big parts of his portfolio stripped away, and facing enormous questions on several fronts that could see him forced from politics -- and that's not even counting the fact he is on track to lose his seat at the next election.
Peter Dutton, one of the most divisive figures in parliament, is facing an unprecedented and multi-faceted storm of issues that could lead to him being forced from parliament altogether.
First, and most prominently, there's the au pair questions, with claims Dutton helped powerful friends and their foreign workers with visa problems; there are claims he potentially misled parliament; there's an impending no-confidence motion to be moved next week; there's a former Border Force boss with a stack of receipts and a score to settle and there are looming section 44 questions over whether he is even eligible to sit in parliament.
Even if one of these scandals doesn't catch up to him first, there's the very real chance he's going to be booted from parliament at the next election.
READ MORE: What's The Go With The Au Pairs?
The au pair issue is weighing Dutton down on a number of fronts.
The initial mystery and secrecy around the au pairs -- the minister reportedly spent thousands of dollars on legal fees in attempts to keep documents and information under wraps -- was enough to spark huge interest when the story first broke earlier this year.
As more au pair stories emerged it was revealed that Dutton unusually intervened in the cases after lobbying from AFL boss Gillon McLachlan and a former police colleague of his. Questions over double standards and a lack of consistency, about the possibility of favours for mates, became even louder.
Then Roman Quaedvlieg entered the fray.
Quaedvlieg, the former boss of the Border Force, was dismissed from his job in March after a long investigation into allegations he had helped his girlfriend obtain a job at Sydney Airport. Many have speculated he had an axe to grind with Dutton, and following recent mysterious comments he made on social media in recent weeks, others theorised he may have some inside information on the au pairs.
Quaedvlieg finally delivered on the rumours on Thursday, claiming a member of Dutton's staff had asked for help for "the boss' mate in Brisbane" regarding one of the au pairs.
Dutton strenuously denied the claims, pointing out several alleged inconsistencies in the allegations, and Quaedvlieg responded with a follow-up statement hinting at "another Brisbane case which occurred at a later date and which may not yet be in the public domain."
Still on the au pairs, Labor and the Greens claim Dutton misled parliament over his connections to the employers of the au pairs, and plan to move a no confidence motion in the minister on Monday. This could compel Dutton to resign.
The embattled minister is also facing section 44 questions over his links to childcare centres.
As Ten News' Hugh Riminton revealed, Dutton has constitutional questions to answer, and with Malcolm Turnbull having left parliament and the government down one vote, a motion to refer Dutton to the High Court could potentially get up.
But looking further ahead, if none of these issues take him down, Dutton will struggle to even hold his own seat at the next election.
He holds his Queensland seat of Dickson with a margin of just 1.6 percent, and if current polling holds, he will be out. His recent failed tilt at the Prime Ministership will likely not have helped his popularity.
And that's where he finds himself today, a diminished figure in the parliament.
His status as the great white hope of the conservative Liberals has dimmed, after being blindsided by the Morrison backers and used as a 'stalking horse' by the new Prime Minister's supporters who hoped to win the ballot from the start.
From the rubble of his squandered chance he was returned to his Home Affairs super-portfolio, but he lost responsibility over immigration.
It has not been a good few weeks for Dutton, and with parliament to return on Monday, he is about to face a storm the likes of which have rarely been seen in Australian politics.