Dutton 'May Have Misled Parliament' With Au Pair Answer
"He urgently needs to explain himself"
Peter Dutton has been accused of misleading federal parliament over the ongoing au pair saga.
Dutton has come under fire in recent weeks after personally intervening to save three separate foreign au pairs from deportation. On Thursday, it was revealed one of the women was to be employed by a former police force colleague of Dutton's.
READ MORE: What's The Go With The Au Pairs?
Greens MP Adam Bandt claimed Dutton now has further questions to answer over the scandal, arising from a response the home affairs minister gave in question time on March 27.
At the time, Bandt asked Dutton:
"Can you categorically rule out any personal connection or any other relationship between you and the intended employer of either of the au pairs?"
"The answer is yes."
"I haven't received any personal benefit. I don't know these people. They haven't worked for me. They haven't worked for my wife. I repeated all of that yesterday, and I repeat it again today."
(Full hansard of the day available here)
One of the women was previously employed by a relative of AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, and Dutton intervened after being lobbied by the executive's office.
Bandt told ten daily in a statement that Dutton needed to explain the discrepancy.
"On the face of it, Peter Dutton may have misled Parliament when answering my question," the Member for Melbourne said.
"Given reports suggesting he has a personal connection with the employer of an au pair, he urgently needs to explain himself. If he can’t, he has no business being a Minister."
Shayne Neumann, Labor's shadow minister for immigration and border protection, also said Dutton's question time answer deserved further scrutiny.
"If Peter Dutton knows the intended employer of one of these au pairs, Peter Dutton has clearly misled Parliament," Neumann told ten daily.
"This entire situation stinks and it’s time Peter Dutton comes clean immediately. If he doesn’t, Scott Morrison needs to step in and clean up his Minister’s mess."
In a statement to ten daily, Dutton's office said he "stands 100 per cent behind his statements to the Parliament."
"Mr Dutton is confident, to the best of his knowledge, he has never met Callum Maclachlan nor has he socialised, met with or had contact with Russell Keag in almost 20 years," the statement read.
"He hasn’t spoken with either individual regarding these matters before or since these matters were first raised."
The minister has consistently denied any wrongdoing in any of the cases, claiming he has properly exercised the ministerial discretion available to him. Nonetheless, the Senate will convene an inquiry into the scandal in coming days, to report back by September 11.
It had previously been reported that Dutton, then-Immigration Minister -- a role he lost in Prime Minister Scott Morrison's recent ministry reshuffle -- stepped in twice in 2015 to grant visas to au pairs who had traveled to Australia without appropriate visas.
In the first case in June 2015, the au pair reportedly made a phone call and had a new visa approved within hours; in November that year, Dutton ignored warnings from his department that granting a visa to a second au pair would be of "high risk" as she had been warned about work restrictions before.
On Tuesday, The Guardian revealed Dutton had intervened on a third au pair case in October 2015 after AFL CEO McLachlan lobbied his office. The au pair had previously worked for his relative.
In an official decision on the third case, Dutton ruled "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."