The statement defied a motion passed by the Senate on Monday with unanimous support calling on Mr Dutton to table in Parliament the completed strategic review, which was announced in last year’s budget.
Rather than comply with the motion, Attorney-General Christian Porter tabled the advice from the department saying there was no report.
The review cost $4.9 million, with the proceeds going to contractors and consultants, and was also undertaken by staff within the portfolio rather than another agency.
This is either the single most expensive single piece of paper in the history of this chamber, or a blatant rejection of the will of the Senate by a minister who is allergic to scrutiny
The concept of the Home Affairs portfolio divided cabinet ministers when Malcolm Turnbull was prime minister from 2015 to 2018 after the idea had been rejected when Tony Abbott was prime minister from 2013 to 2015.
While the idea had strong support from Mr Dutton and his department secretary in the then immigration portfolio, Mike Pezzullo, it was opposed by the then foreign minister Julie Bishop and others.
Mr Turnbull agreed with Mr Dutton and the new Home Affairs department gained oversight over the Australian Border Force, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and the Office of Transport Security.
Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally accused the government of producing “$5 million worth of buzzwords” with its one-page response.
“This is either the single most expensive single piece of paper in the history of this chamber, or a blatant rejection of the will of the Senate by a minister who is allergic to scrutiny,” she said.
Ms Keneally argued the government had presided over a string of failures since the amalgamation of the Home Affairs Department, including flaws identified by the Australian National Audit Office.
“This a department riddled with inefficiencies, waste and maladministration,” she said.
Senator Keneally cited one of the audit office reports, in June last year, saying it had found “no evidence” that written briefings on the amalgamation were provided to the minister.
The audit office had found in December 2018 that the department’s Cape Class Patrol Boats had fallen short of patrol day targets for four years, she said.
Senator Keneally also claimed the department had wasted taxpayer money by spending over $450,000 on corporate hospitality, $100,000 on executive office upgrades, $132,000 on motivational speakers and $9 million on a contract with Toll Holdings for accommodation on Manus Island even though the project was abandoned.
Senator Keneally also cited an audit office finding in January this year that concluded the department’s Biometric Identification Services Project was “deficient in almost every respect” despite a cost of $34 million.
Mr Dutton is returning to Australia following a meeting of the Five Eyes intelligence partners in London.
David Crowe is chief political correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.