Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton personally intervened to stop a French au pair being deported after his office was lobbied by AFL boss Gillon McLachlan.
Documents released under Freedom of Information show Mr Dutton approved the release of a 27-year-old woman from immigration detention on November 1, 2015 and used his ministerial power to grant her a tourist visa.
The ABC understands the woman’s name is Alexandra Deuwel and that she arrived at Adelaide Airport on October 31, 2015.
It is believed she was planning to work for Adelaide-based pastoralists Callum and Skye Maclachlan.
Callum Maclachlan is the second-cousin of Gillon McLachlan, even though their surnames are spelled differently.
It is understood Gillon McLachlan made representations to Mr Dutton’s chief of staff, Craig Maclachlan.
Craig Maclachlan is not related to either the AFL boss or the pastoralist.
Mr Dutton’s office asked the department for a brief on the matter.
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 that 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”.
Mr Dutton approved Ms Deuwel’s release despite her telling Australian Border Force (ABF) officers she intended to work in Australia.
The documents show Mr Dutton was therefore warned there were “clear indications” Ms Deuwel was, “intending to work in Australia and thus, the grant of a visitor visa is of high risk”.
Mr Dutton was advised to impose a condition on Ms Deuwel that she must not “engage in work”, which he did.
It was not the first time the nanny had come into contact with border officials.
The ABC understands she was “counselled” by ABF officers in May 2015 about breaching the conditions of her visa, as she left Australia.
Ms Deuwel had arrived in Australia on an eVisitor visa, which tourists can apply for online.
In a statement released today, Mr Dutton said immigration ministers receive hundreds of requests for intervention on migration cases every 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.
“There is an administrative process to be followed and it has been followed in every instance.”
Callum Maclachlan has not returned calls. The AFL declined to comment.
In March the news wire service AAP reported claims Mr Dutton had used ministerial discretion to grant a visa for an au pair.
He was asked about the report in parliament and confirmed two young “tourists” had been detained at an airport after declaring to Border Force officers that they intended to “perform babysitting duties” while in Australia.
“I looked into the circumstances of those two cases and I thought that inappropriate,” he said.
“I thought if they gave an undertaking they wouldn’t work while they were here, I would grant the tourist visas and they would stay, which they did.”
“They didn’t overstay; they returned back home.”
A Senate inquiry was set up to investigate the issue last Thursday.
Shadow Immigration spokesman Shane Neumann said Mr Dutton had serious questions to answer about his use of ministerial powers.
“Labor expects the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison to ensure his Minister fully cooperates with the Senate Inquiry and its efforts to get to the bottom of these matters,” Mr Neumann said.
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