Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has blasted an “inappropriate” last-ditch attempt by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to save his leadership.
Mr Dutton has also praised Attorney-General Christian Porter for pushing back against the idea during the Liberal leadership spill last August.
The day before he was deposed, Mr Turnbull reportedly tried to drag Governor-General Peter Cosgrove into the fray, hatching a plan to persuade him not to endorse Mr Dutton as leader.
Mr Porter warned the then-prime minister his position was “wrong at law”, threatening to publicly repudiate Mr Turnbull if he pursued the idea.
“Christian Porter is a person of great integrity and decency and he really impressed me during that week,” Mr Dutton said on Thursday.
“He didn’t take sides, he looked at what needed to be done as attorney-general of our country and he saw inappropriate behaviour taking place.
“He called it out, he stood up to it. It was a gutsy move and I think he deserves full credit for it.”
Mr Porter conceded the meeting wasn’t “all potpourri and roses” but said his job as attorney-general was to provide accurate legal advice.
“Sometimes that advice is not always what people want to hear,” he said.
“I’ve always taken very seriously the role and the fact the role requires to give advice that to be the best of your legal knowledge and ability you think is accurate and correct.”
Mr Turnbull’s idea stemmed from doubts about Mr Dutton’s eligibility to sit in parliament due to his wife’s child care businesses receiving a government subsidy.
The home affairs minister dismissed the ploy as a “ruse”.
“Asking me to come back as home affairs minister after I’d resigned on the Tuesday demonstrated he had no concern for my eligibility to sit in the parliament,” Mr Dutton said.
“The Labor Party never raised it in the most recent election and it was only ever used as a delaying tactic to damage me, which he was able to do.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has challenged Mr Dutton to refer himself to the High Court, saying”I’d like to see it resolved one way or the other”.
“These are very serious revelations that the then-prime minister thought they were so serious that they would prevent Peter Dutton from being sworn in if he was elected leader of the Liberal Party as prime minister,” Mr Albanese told Sky News.
“It just shows the ongoing conflict in the coalition hasn’t gone away. When they gather in their party room next week, those tensions will still be there.”
Labor could repeat attempts to refer Mr Dutton to the High Court when federal parliament returns next week.
The governor-general’s office was tight-lipped about his “private and confidential” conversations with the prime minister.
“I can, however, confirm that no formal advice was sought or provided to the office in relation to any eligibility issues,” a spokesman for his official secretary told The Australian.