News National Dutton denies wrongdoing over au pair visa decision

Dutton denies wrongdoing over au pair visa decision

Peter Dutton
Peter Dutton has denied any wrongdoing in relation to his granting of the visa. Photo: ABC
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Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is facing demands to explain why he personally intervened to save a French au pair from deportation at the request of AFL boss Gil McLachlan.

Federal Labor is also calling on Mr Dutton to explain whether political donations had any influence on his decision to help Alexandra Deuwel into the country.

Mr Dutton has flatly denied any wrongdoing.

As immigration minister in November 2015, Mr Dutton intervened to free a 27-year-old from immigration detention after his office was lobbied by the AFL boss.

The minister used his discretionary powers to grant her a tourist visa.

The au pair was planning to work for Adelaide-based farmer Callum MacLachlan, who is Gil McLachlan’s second cousin.

Peter Dutton
French au pair Alexandra Deuwel was held in immigration detention when she arrived in Adelaide in October, 2015. Photo: Facebook

Callum’s father Hugh MacLachlan has donated roughly $150,000 to state and federal branches of the Liberal Party since 1999, including a $20,000 donation in 2008 and a $25,000 donation in 2013.

Mr Dutton said the donations had no influence on his 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,” a spokeswoman told the ABC.

Mr Dutton said immigration ministers receive hundreds of representations about migration matters each year.

“I consider cases on their merits,” he said.

“Any suggestions cases are determined on any other basis, including whether I knew the individual who referred the matter, is completely ridiculous.”

However, opposition immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann has demanded Mr Dutton appear before a Senate inquiry into the matter.

“The issues of whether a Liberal Party donor or family members have called on the minister to assist them should be ventilated before a Senate inquiry,” Mr Neumann told the ABC.

It becomes more and more murky and more and more unusual, shall I say, about what’s been happening in relation to this issue as events unfold.”

The ABC states Ms Deuwel arrived at Adelaide Airport on October 31, 2015 on an eVisitor visa, which tourists can apply for online.

In a document marked “Sensitive: Personal” dated November 1, 2015, Mr Dutton wrote, “It would be in the public interest” to grant the woman a three-month tourist visa.

He added his intervention was a “discretionary and humanitarian act” for someone with “ongoing needs” and that the decision was in the “interests of Australia as a humane and generous society”.

It is also understood she was also “counselled” by ABF officers in May 2015 about breaching the conditions of her visa, as she left Australia.

The AFL has been contacted for comment.

Last week, Labor successfully moved to establish an inquiry into Mr Dutton’s personal interventions in the cases of two other au pairs.

The upper house committee will next week investigate two separate decisions by Mr Dutton to overrule his department’s denial of entry to the two young women in 2015.