Documents have revealed Peter Dutton used his ministerial powers to help a French au pair who was friends with a relative of AFL boss Gillon McLachlan.
This was a day after Ms Deuwel’s tourist visa was cancelled and she was detained at Adelaide airport on suspicion she intended to breach her visa by seeking paid work.
The ABC published the ministerial order signed by Mr Dutton granting the visa to the French woman, who was 27 at the time. Mr Dutton asserts in the document that granting the visa was “in the public interest”.
The minister reportedly granted the visa after being lobbied by Mr McLachlan. Ms Deuwel had reportedly stayed at the home of the AFL boss’ cousin, Callum Maclachlan (who spells his surname differently).
Mr Dutton and Mr McLachlan have so far not commented publicly.
It is the third known case where Mr Dutton intervened to grant a visa to an au pair who had run into immigration trouble.
After challenging former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership, Mr Dutton has suffered two damaging stories in succession.
First, he was accused of being in breach of the constitution, by way of federal subsidies received through a trust fund from two Brisbane child care centres. The constitution bans any politician from sitting who receives “any direct or indirect pecuniary interest” from the public service.
At the height of the leadership contest, Mr Turnbull, aided by the Labor party, used this story to cast doubt on Mr Dutton’s eligibility to sit in Parliament, saying they were “very, very serious” allegations.
Mr Turnbull then orchestrated advice from the Solicitor-General, the government’s chief legal adviser, that appeared to clear Mr Dutton, but hedged on several points. It is unclear if Labor will pursue the matter further when Parliament returns in early September.
Then, on Tuesday, came the new development in the au pair saga.
Supporters of Mr Dutton have already accused the Turnbull camp of leaking against him.
Mr Dutton lost the contest to Australia’s new prime minister, Scott Morrison, by five votes.
In a further embarrassment, the first asylum seeker boat in almost four years arrived on Australian shores this week, in north Queensland, which was a blow to Mr Dutton’s claim to be the minister who ‘stopped the boats’.