Peter Dutton fires back at explosive letter, claiming the evidence is fabricated
HOME Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has angrily fired back at an explosive letter presented to a Senate Inquiry from a former ally, insisting the evidence is fabricated and its author “bitter”.
Roman Quaedvlieg, the former commissioner of Border Force, yesterday wrote to a the inquiry examining Mr Dutton’s intervention in visa issues concerning two foreign nannies.
In his evidence, Mr Quaedvlieg claimed that Mr Dutton’s chief of staff Craig Maclachlan had called him to seek advice on helping an Italian au pair who was employed by the minister’s “friend”.
That explosive detail would contradict Mr Dutton’s insistence that he didn’t have a relationship with any party involved in the two visa cases under scrutiny.
But there’s a new twist that casts significant doubt on the claims Mr Quaedvlieg made, throwing the integrity of the inquiry into jeopardy.
Mr Dutton has hit back at the claims, saying his chief of staff didn’t join his office until October 7 that year — months after the call is said to have taken place.
“Equally, it is impossible for Mr Maclachlan to have had any knowledge of the matter at that time because he was not even employed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection,” he said in a statement.
Mr Dutton said he hadn’t instructed anyone in his office to call Mr Quaedvlieg in relation to the Italian au pair’s case.
The evidence, which he described as “fabricated”, was the result of Mr Quaedvlieg feeling “bitter about the loss of his job”. He described Mr Quaedvlieg’s claims as “false, misleading and clearly defamatory”.
Mr Dutton doubled down, pointing out that the former Border Force boss remains under criminal investigation, which contributed to him leaving his post in March.
“I can only assume that the pressure and personal toll of these investigations have resulted in Mr Quaedvlieg making an enormous error in judgment by submitting false evidence to the Senate (Inquiry),” he said.
“It is for these reasons, I have asked ABF Commissioner Mr Michael Outram to offer Mr Quaedvlieg any support to address his personal or mental health issues.”
He called on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and shadow immigration spokesman Shane Neumann to detail any contact they had with Mr Quaedvlieg.
His letter was sent to the chair of the inquiry, West Australian Labor Senator Louise Pratt, after testimony at yesterday’s session.
Mr Dutton has repeatedly insisted that he had no personal relationship with anyone involved in the two cases, including in response to a question in Parliament.
As well as the Italian au pair case, Mr Dutton intervened to assist a French woman, who was employed by the cousin of AFL boss Gill McLachlan.
The Senate Inquiry yesterday heard from Mr McLachlan, who defended his actions and said he simply passed on an email to Mr Dutton’s office.
Mr McLachlan’s cousin, who employed the woman, is a wealthy pastoralist whose family has donated more than $150,000 to the Liberal Party.
Mr Dutton has continually said he acted appropriately in exercising his ministerial powers.
Mr Quaedvlieg left his post in March after a long-running investigation into whether he misused his power to get his partner a job within Border Force.