Sunday, 2 September 2018

Peter Dutton and the French au pair

On 17 June 2015 then Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection & Liberal MP for Dickson Peter Dutton overturned a departmental decision to classify the holder of an e-Visa as “an unlawful non-citizen” - allowing Alexandra Deuwel entry into Australia and supplying her with a tourist visa despite her declaration that she intended to work during her stay.
Linkedin entry retrieved 28 August 2018. It has since been removed from public view

The Australian Government has unsuccessfully attempted to hide details of the minister’s decision.

The Guardian, 3 August 2018:
The Australian government spent more than $10,000 in taxpayer cash fighting a legal battle to keep documents secret about the home affairs minister Peter Dutton’s decision to save two foreign au pairs from deportation.

The visa status of the two unknown young women has been in the spotlight since March, when it was revealed that Dutton used his powers of ministerial discretion to grant them visas on public interest grounds.

In the first case, an au pair whose visa was cancelled at Brisbane’s international airport in June 2015 was able to make a phone call and within a couple of hours the minister approved a new visa.

In November the same year, Dutton defied written warnings from his own department that granting a visa to a second au pair was of “high risk” because she had been previously counselled about work restrictions.

Dutton insists he doesn’t know the two individuals involved and that they didn’t work for his family.

The Guardian, 28 August 2018:

The home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, saved an au pair from deportation, intervening after the AFL’s chief executive officer, Gillon McLachlan, raised the young woman’s case.

Guardian Australia understands that a French woman named Alexandra Deuwel was detained at Adelaide’s international airport late on 31 October 2015.

Her tourist visa was cancelled at the border because there were suspicions she intended to work and she had previously been counselled over visa conditions during an earlier stay in Australia.

Deuwel had previously worked for McLachlan’s relatives Callum and Skye MacLachlan in South Australia and was returning to visit them. Callum MacLachlan is joint managing director of the cattle and sheep company Jumbuck Pastoral.

An AFL official, who works for Gillon McLachlan, is understood to have contacted Dutton’s chief of staff, Craig Maclachlan, on behalf of Callum regarding the former au pair’s situation. Although related to Gillon McLachlan, Callum’s side of the family spells its name differently. Craig Maclachlan is not related to either Callum or Gillon.
On the eve of a ministerial visit to Zaatari, a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, Dutton was alerted to the case, by Craig Maclachlan. He used his discretion powers under the Migration Act to grant the young woman a tourist visa on public interest grounds within 24 hours of her arrival. The visa was granted on the condition she undertake no paid work.

In freedom of information documents released on Tuesday to the ABC, Dutton gives his reason for Deuwel’s visa allowance.

“Having regard to this person’s particular circumstances and personal characteristics, I have decided to exercise my discretionary powers under section 195A of the (migration) act as it would be in the public interest to grant this person a visa.

“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.”….

A former department official said what horrified frontline airport personnel most about the au pair cases was that their decisions were being “overruled so quickly and at such a senior level for such a trivial matter”….

On 28 August 2018 this article was amended. A previous version said it was not known whether Craig Maclachlan was related to relatives of Gillon McLachlan. Peter Dutton’s office has since said they are not related.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton issued a somewhat choleric response to media reports on 28 August 2018:

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