Labor rebuffs Angus Taylor’s request for parliamentary cover to attend UN climate talks

Katharine Murphy and Naaman Zhou
Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Labor has raised the political stakes in the Angus Taylor imbroglio, denying the besieged minister a pair to attend energy and climate events in Europe next week, while the Greens in New South Wales have referred the police commissioner to the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC).

The opposition has rebuffed Taylor’s request for pairing to attend the International Energy Agency’s conference in Paris, and then United Nations-led climate talks in Madrid, telling him it is it inappropriate that he leave parliament for the final sitting week of the year when there is a live police investigation into the origins of a doctored document the minister used to attack the lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore.

The refusal of parliamentary cover for the minister comes as the document controversy dominated federal politics in the penultimate sitting week of the year, and the Greens in NSW referred Mick Fuller to the LECC after the commissioner’s conversation with Scott Morrison earlier this week about the dodgy document investigation.

Related: Angus Taylor controversy: City of Sydney reveals it has data logs of visits to website

Greens MP David Shoebridge said he had referred the issue to the LECC “because it is a genuinely independent and non-partisan body” who would investigate “these kinds of matters”. He said there were two concerns with the conversation: Morrison had a “vested political interest in the police investigation failing to find any misconduct by his minister”; and “the personal relationship between commissioner Fuller and prime minister Morrison … having been neighbours”.

Fuller and Morrison have previously confirmed the two were neighbours in Sydney, and the prime minister described the commissioner in 2018 as a “good bloke”. But after controversy about the call from the prime minister erupted, Fuller stepped back on Wednesday from the idea the two men had a personal relationship.

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In Canberra, Labor continued its pursuit of Taylor and of Morrison in the final question time of the week, and the prime minister attempted to fend off the pursuit by framing the inquisition as the opposition playing “political games”.

Morrison shrugged off negative commentary from the former anti-corruption commissioner and senior judge David Ipp, who told Guardian Australia the prime minister’s call to the NSW police chief looked like an inappropriate attempt to use his position to make a political decision.

Related: PM's phone call to police chief an inappropriate attempt to use position, former top judge says

The prime minister said Fuller had said publicly he had not raised anything inappropriate during their conversation and if “the leader of the opposition wants to cast aspersions against the NSW police commissioner he can do so”. Morrison said Labor had not raised any objections about the call when Morrison telegraphed in parliament he intended to make it.

Even though police have begun an investigation into whether a cabinet minister or his staff have committed serious offences, Morrison sought to characterise ongoing questions in parliament as “political games being played by a leader of the opposition who is more interested in the drama and the carryings on of Canberra politics than he is in the serious issues that are being raised in this place”.

Taylor was also asked on Thursday whether he stood by his previous statements that neither he, nor his office, altered the Sydney City Council document that was used, erroneously, to attack Clover Moore’s travel.

The minister for emissions reduction said: “I reject absolutely the suggestion that I or any members of my staff altered the documents in question”. Taylor said Labor had overreached in pursuing the issue, and had “a track record of using police referrals as a political tool”.

In the course of attempting to fend off Labor’s ongoing parliamentary attack, Morrison also misled the House on four occasions on Wednesday and Thursday, infuriating the opposition.