Peter Dutton accused of ‘double standards’ in granting visas for the nannies of powerful friends
AN army veteran who tried to obtain a visa for his Afghan interpreter, whose life was in danger for helping coalition forces, was refused a meeting with Peter Dutton.
All the while, the Home Affairs Minister personally intervened to help the nannies of wealthy and powerful friends dodge immigration rules and enter the country without hassle.
Critics of Mr Dutton’s use of ministerial discretion powers say there seems to be one rule for his mates and another for everyone else.
“Dutton has fought tooth and nail to keep sick and dying children locked up on Nauru, but can’t act quickly enough when the well-connected come asking for help,” Greens Senator McKim said.
On the back of his failed leadership coup last week, pressure is mounting on Mr Dutton after revelations yesterday that he assisted a French nanny and yoga teacher to enter the country.
It’s the third case of him using ministerial discretion powers to intervene in visa issues involving foreign nannies.
In the newly emerged instance, his action followed lobbying by AFL boss Gillon McLachlan on behalf of his cousin — whose family are major donors to the Liberal Party.
The revelations have shone fresh attention on Australian Army veteran Jason Scanes, who tried unsuccessfully for several months to get a meeting with Mr Dutton.
Captain Scanes, who has retired, battled for five years to obtain a visa for the Afghan national who worked as his interpreter in the war zone.
“Essentially, when you arrive in Afghanistan, you’re issued an interpreter like you’re issued a pistol. You form a very close relationship and bond with them,” he told ABC.
“If they’re found to be assisting coalition forces, the action taken against them by insurgent groups or the Taliban is very, very severe and quite barbaric.”
Mr Dutton refused requests to meet with Captain Scanes to discuss the case. In April, the former soldier began a daily one-man protest outside his Brisbane electorate office.
It was only then, following media attention, that Mr Dutton’s department agreed to review the case. It then denied an appeal on its original decision.
“The latest review of this case found no new information that would lead to the issuance of a visa,” it said.
Senator McKim, the Greens’ spokesman on immigration, said Mr Dutton had overridden the advice of his own department officials in the au pair cases.
“There seems to be one rule for people with a line into Dutton’s office, and another rule for everyone else.”
Opposition immigration and border protection spokesman Shayne Neumann said there were serious questions about Mr Dutton’s use of ministerial powers.
“The Minister needs to explain how and why he intervened to grant these visas — including one case where his own department said it would be ‘high risk’ to do so,” Mr Neumann said.
“Dutton and his department must front up at the Senate Inquiry and explain why his interventions were appropriate and the reasons for his interventions.”
French national Alexandra Deuwel was detained by immigration officers at Adelaide Airport in October 2015 over suspicions she intended to work while on a tourist visa.
Mr Dutton worked to prevent her deportation and granted her a visa, arguing that it was in the “public interest”.
She had been employed by Callum MacLachlan, a wealthy pastoralist whose family has donated some $150,000 to the Liberal Party at a state and federal level.
Six months after Mr Dutton’s intervention, Mr MacLachlan’s father Hugh donated a further $50,000 to the party’s South Australian branch.
Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information show Mr Dutton considered the woman’s case a “humanitarian” matter.
“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 wrote.
“In the circumstances, I have decided that as a discretionary and humanitarian act to an individual with ongoing needs, it is in the interests of Australia as a humane and generous society to grant this person a visitor visa (subclass 600) for a period of three months.”
Last month, it was revealed that Mr Dutton helped two other au pairs gain who had been detained at Brisbane Airport in June and November 2015.
The Guardian reported that Mr Dutton’s intervention ruffled feathers within Border Force.
Mr Dutton is due to face a Senate Inquiry into his involvement in those two cases.
A spokesman for the AFL said Mr McLachlan would not be making a statement about the issue.
Yesterday, Mr Dutton issued a statement defending his actions and said he had considered the three cases “on their merits”.
“Ministers for Immigration receive, annually, hundreds of representations on individual migration matters from members of the public, organisations, journalists and other Members of Parliament,” Mr Dutton said.
“There are long standing intervention powers provided to Ministers to consider and deal with these representations. These powers were the same under the former Labor Government.
“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.”