The 14 times Dutton intervened in visa matters
NEW details have emerged about the 14 times Peter Dutton used his special ministerial power to intervene in tourist visa issues, with allegations his conduct in the au pair saga is anything but routine.
The embattled Home Affairs Minister told reporters yesterday he had received some 9000 representations from members of parliament, requesting he use those very powers to help.
But since becoming the minister responsible for immigration on December 23, 2014, Mr Dutton has stepped in on just 14 occasions up until June 30 this year.
The very first time was for a former Queensland Police colleague, Russell Keag, whose Italian au pair had been detained by officials at Brisbane airport on June 17, 2015, on suspicion of intending to work while on a tourist visa.
Three months later to the day, also at Brisbane Airport, media reports suggest Mr Dutton again intervened - for only the second time in his ministerial tenure - in a visa matter involving another foreign nanny, but further details about the circumstances are unknown.
The third time he acted was a few months later on November 1, 2015 when French national Alexandra Deuwel was detained at Adelaide Airport.
Gillon McLachlan, the powerful boss of the AFL, lobbied Mr Dutton's office to step in on behalf of his cousin who had employed the woman.
She was associated with the wealthy family, who have donated more than $150,000 to the Liberal Party.
"Peter Dutton's ministerial interventions to stop au pairs from being deported are anything but routine," says Shayne Neumann, opposition immigration and border protection spokesman.
"Australians are right in asking why there are repeated instances of people with connections to Dutton getting visas for their au pairs - it stinks.
"Why did these interventions happen so quickly? Why did Dutton deny his connections to the employers - in one case a former colleague? Why did Dutton defy his Department's advice and grant visas to people who were 'high risk' and had previously breached visa conditions?"
Mr Dutton's had also spent more than $10,000 on legal costs in a bid to keep details of the au pair cases secret, Mr Neumann said.
Details of the 11 other tourist visa interventions are sketchy and there is no suggestion that they involve other au pairs. However, fresh clouds have gathered over Mr Dutton's use of powers that occurred on May 11, 2017.
In that case, he granted a person a three-year tourist visa - significantly longer than the standard 12 months.
On September 21, 2017, Mr Dutton used his ministerial power twice in the same day - once to grant an 18-month tourist visa. Details of the second case are unknown.
And on May 24 this year, he again acted twice in one day, granting a 12-month visa and a three-month visa for temporary visitors.
The extraordinary statements made by Mr Dutton yesterday - in which he threatened to release a "list" of requests from Labor MPs that would prove damaging - was a sign of his desperation.
"Peter Dutton can try to sling mud at others all he likes, but he can't hide the fact that as the Minister responsible, he had the decision-making authority in these cases and he needs to come clean."
Mr Dutton has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the au pair cases and denied accusations by Greens MP Adam Bandt that he misled Parliament.
Yesterday, Mr Bandt indicated his intention to move a motion of no confidence in Mr Dutton when Parliament resumes next week.
It's understood Labor will support the motion, along with independent MP Andrew Wilkie, while other members of the cross bench are weighing up their options.
The au pair saga has been a distraction for Scott Morrison's new government, which is struggling for clear air to sell its agenda following the leadership coup.
A series of damaging leaks, including secret emails from senior Border Force officials advising Mr Dutton not to intervene in the French nanny's case, have seen press mount.
Mr Morrison said that he is comfortable with his minister's explanations.
A Senate Inquiry into the au pair decisions is due to begin tomorrow.
ALL OF PETER DUTTON'S SUBCLASS 600 (TOURIST) VISA INTERVENTIONS
June 17, 2015 - the Italian au pair of his former police colleague, detained at Brisbane Airport
September 17, 2015 - reportedly another foreign au pair detained at Brisbane Airport
November 1, 2014 - the French au pair of the MacLachlan family, detained at Adelaide Airport
March 24, 2016 - no details
June 17, 2016 - no details
April 8, 2017 - a six-month tourist visa granted, no other details
May 11, 20-17 - a three-year tourist visa granted, no other details
August 10, 2017 - a 12-month tourist visa granted, no other details
September 21, 2017 - no details
September 21, 2017 - 18-month tourist visa granted, no other details
April 21, 2018 - no details
May 10, 2018 - 18-month tourist visa granted, no other details
May 24, 2018 - 12-month visa granted, no other details
May 24, 2015 - three-month visa granted, no other details
* Up until June 30, 2018