Dutton Denies Wrongdoing Over Au Pairs As Opponents Demand Answers
What's the go with the au pairs?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in close contact with the Attorney-General over Peter Dutton’s involvement in helping au pairs into the country, and isn’t worried the actions of his home affairs minister are under a cloud.
Dutton, who is facing an upcoming Senate inquiry over his involvement in the cases of two other au pairs, has denied any wrongdoing after it emerged he personally intervened to stop the deportation of a third woman when she arrived in Australia in November 2015.
But his political opponents are demanding answers.
Alexandra Deuwel was detained by border force officers in November 2015 over concerns she intended to work in the country.
It has been reported the former immigration minister used his powers to approve the 27-year-old’s release from immigration detention after his office was lobbied by AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, on behalf of a relative in South Australia.
Documents obtained by The ABC show Dutton granted the woman a three-month visa on the condition she did not work.
"Having regard to this person's particular circumstances and personal characteristics, I have decided to use my discretionary powers ... as it would be in the public interest to grant this person a visa," he reasoned.
"In the circumstances, I have decided that as a discretionary and humanitarian act to an individual with ongoing needs, it is in the interest of Australia as a humane and generous society to grant this person a visitor visa (subclass 600) for a period of three months."
Speaking to media on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said he was in close contact with the Attorney-General over the matter and would be taking his advice.
“We are dealing with those issues within our internal processes and I would not have appointed Mr Dutton to the important role he has without considering those matters,” he said.
Duewel is understood to have worked as an au pair for Gil McLachlan's relatives Callum and Skye MacLachlan and was returning to visit them in South Australia. Their surnames are spelled differently.
Callum's father is understood to have donated about $150,000 to state and federal branches of the Liberal Party since 1999, and $50,000 to the party’s South Australian branch after Dutton’s intervention, the ABC reports.
In a statement to The ABC, a spokeswoman said Dutton was not aware of the donations when he made the decision.
"The Minister has intervened in many cases presented by Labor Members of Parliament and you would have to ask them if they are presenting those cases based on donations to the Labor Party," she said.
In an earlier statement, Dutton refused any suggestions he contravened the Ministerial Code of Conduct or made decisions to his personal benefit, saying immigration ministers received hundreds of requests to intervene in visa cases each year.
"I consider cases on their merits. Any suggestions cases are determined on any other basis, including whether I knew the individual who referred the matter, is completely ridiculous," he said.
"There is an administrative process to be followed in every instance."
He also dismissed claims his Chief of Staff, who was reportedly contacted by an AFL official over the issue, was related to Gillon McLachlan, saying it too is false.
Both Greens Senator Nick McKim and opposition immigration minister Shayne Neumann said the home affairs minister has some serious questions to answer.
“Labor expects the new prime minister Scott Morrison to ensure his minister fully cooperates with the Senate inquiry and its efforts to get to the bottom of these matters,” Neumann said.
The upper house committee will investigate two separate decisions by Dutton to overrule his department’s denial of entry to two other young women in 2015.