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The house privileges committee met last night after the government defeated a bid by Labor to refer Christian Porter to it over the declaration of his legal fees being part-paid by a blind trust.

The leader of the house, Peter Dutton, has asked the committee to consider clarifying the rules around disclosure of donations for legal cases:

Paul Karp
(@Paul_Karp)

Peter Dutton has asked the privileges committee to clarify the rules about declaration of donations for legal funds – but it’s no inquiry, and no substitute for a referral into Porter’s declaration.#auspol pic.twitter.com/ciG4VC8wc5


October 20, 2021

Guardian Australia understands although the Wednesday night meeting was the committee’s regular meeting, the Dutton correspondence was discussed. Consideration of the issue of disclosure of legal fee donations is on foot, is ongoing, and the committee is meeting again next week.

Members of the government including assistant attorney general, Amanda Stoker, are out spinning that the process Dutton proposed is better than a “witch hunt” from Labor, because it will ensure there is “a clear position that will apply equally to all people whatever their political colours”.

I note the referral does not ask the committee to consider whether any MP’s disclosures are against the rules, it seeks to further clarify the rules.

So it’s more an inquiry into whether the rules are fit for purpose than an inquiry into whether any MP has breached the rule.

In the house, Dutton sought to raise similar concerns about some senators’ disclosures.

The Senate privileges committee is meeting this morning, but has not received similar correspondence asking it to consider the rules.

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