Prime Minister Scott Morrison does not believe Peter Dutton should apologise after accusing somebody of "grooming" a woman 30 years younger than him.
Mr Dutton on Tuesday used parliamentary privilege to accuse former Australian Border Force boss Roman Quaedvlieg of having "groomed" a younger woman who became his girlfriend.
Mr Quaedvlieg has demanded he withdraw the "disgusting and offensive" comment, which he said was an accusation of a criminal sexual offence.
However, the prime minister does not believe the ex-ABF boss was made out to be a pedophile.
"He has not done that. He has not done that at all," Mr Morrison said on Wednesday.
The home affairs minister verbally attacked the 53-year-old ex-ABF boss in parliament after Labor quizzed Mr Dutton over claims he pushed for two Queensland police officers to secure jobs at the agency.
"(Mr Quaedvlieg) was, as commissioner, sacked from his position. He was a man who had groomed a girl 30 years younger than himself," Mr Dutton told parliament.
"He is discredited and disgraced."
Mr Quaedvlieg, who was fired from his role after helping his girlfriend get a job, responded on Twitter.
"Talk to anyone in the community & put together the words 'groomed' & 'girl' & see where their mind goes, let alone an ex-police officer, let alone one who has investigated offences against children," Mr Quaedvlieg tweeted on Wednesday.
The prime minister said Mr Dutton had been subjected to "spurious and false" allegations.
"What he has expressed, I think, is a great frustration at the false and repeatedly false claims that have been put forward, and I'm surprised that they continue to be reported," Mr Morrison said.
Special Minister of State Alex Hawke doesn't believe "grooming" implied Mr Quaedvlieg was a pedophile, arguing Mr Dutton had responded to a personal vendetta against him.
"It's up to people in parliament to decide their own language and I understand the frustration Peter Dutton feels," Mr Hawke told Sky News.
But Labor doesn't share that understanding.
"He's got every right of course to defend his decision making," deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek told Sky News.
"What he doesn't have the right to do is attack public servants under parliamentary privilege in quite distasteful ways.
The stoush between the two former Queensland police officers originally erupted over Mr Dutton's decision to grant visas to two au pairs held in immigration detention.
Mr Dutton was also accused of lobbying Mr Quaedvlieg to secure jobs at the ABF for two other former police officers, including one who is now an adviser in his ministerial office.