Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has urged all MPs to be transparent in response to scrutiny of their travel after Nationals MP George Christensen has spent two years trying to block the release of a police letter about his frequent visits to the Philippines.
Mr Christensen has made a third secret submission to the information watchdog as part of an effort to stop the release of details about a police probe into his Philippines travel, saying the document falsely accused him of a serious crime.
Queensland MP George Christensen has spent two years trying to block the release of the letter.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
For two years Nine News, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have been trying, under Freedom of Information laws, to access the document sent on June 25, 2018, from the Australian Federal Police to then-home affairs minister Peter Dutton.
Asked whether she was comfortable with an MP consistently trying to block the release of information regarding a police assessment of their travel, Ms Andrews said Mr Christensen was “on the record with his views of his travel in relation to various matters there”.
“I would encourage all politicians of any particular policy background to do all that they can to assist in an investigation into any matter that they have any knowledge of, particularly if it is concerning their own conduct,” she said on Wednesday.
Asked whether that includes transparency in allowing documents about police assessments to be released, she said: “I think that there is a responsibility for politicians to be open and transparent in quite frankly just about every single matter.”
Karen Andrews says all MPs should be transparent about investigations into them.Credit: Dominic Lorrimer
“And if there is a matter that concerns them, or their particular issues in relation for example to travel as you have raised, I think that every parliamentarian has a responsibility to co-operate to the best of their ability.”
In the letter, the Australian Federal Police advised it was closing the case into Mr Christensen, but warned the Queensland MP remained an ongoing risk of being compromised, according to sources who have seen the letter.
Mr Christensen, who has a Filipina wife, has always claimed to be the victim of a “vile” smear campaign over the scrutiny of his travel.
“I am not happy with documents that basically falsely accuse me of a serious crime being made public because therefore people will get to then report what you are falsely accused of and that’s just wrong for anyone,” Mr Christensen said last month.
The MP was dubbed “The Member for Manila” by colleagues after it was revealed he spent 294 days in the Philippines between April 2014 and his last visit in June 2018.
The AFP looked into his travel for more than a year, which included frequent visits to Angeles City – an urbanised area more than 80km north of the capital Manila that is known for its red-light district – but found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, former deputy prime minister Michael McCormack and then-home affairs minister Mr Dutton were all briefed on the probe at least once by the AFP.
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