PETER Dutton’s office demanded an au pair detained at Brisbane airport be given urgent consideration for a visa, preferably within an hour.
Emails provided to a Senate inquiry on Wednesday show the then-immigration minister’s office asked the department to quickly prepare a ministerial intervention briefing for the woman, who was to be deported that night after officers found she planned to work while on a tourist visa.
Mr Dutton says the inquiry is politically motivated and will likely find him to be a “bad person.”
“It will be a political report with political recommendations,” he said.
The minister told reporters on Wednesday thousands of cases were dealt with every year, and he looks at matters on their merit.
The email was sent from Mr Dutton’s departmental liaison officer to the immigration department at 6:30pm on June 17, 2015.
“This is urgent. The minister requires this submission tonight (preferably in the next hour as he has an appointment at 7.30pm),” the email said.
The intervention briefing was prepared and the woman was given a visa and released from detention that night.
The emails also show a conversation between Italian au pair Michela Marchisio and someone in Australia offering to help her find babysitting work for a “bit of cash to fund fun”.
Mr Dutton told parliament he did not know the people who Ms Marchisio was planning to work for.
It was later revealed her intended employer was an old Queensland Police colleague of Mr Dutton’s, Russell Keag, who emailed his office to say it had been a “long time between calls” but he needed help.
Mr Dutton said he had not spoken to Mr Keag in 20 years before he was approached for help with the visa.
The emails also show the department expressly disagreed with Mr Dutton’s push to give a visa to another au pair detained in Adelaide in November 2015.
Mr Dutton pushed ahead with it anyway and his ministerial decision had to be backdated after he missed signing it in time.
On Wednesday, he again defended his handling of both cases.
“The two instances … don’t deviate from normal practice,” he said.
THE EMAILS REGARDING AU PAIR VISA DECISIONS
* Dutton’s office asked for a briefing on ministerial intervention for an au pair detained in Brisbane at 6.30pm on a Wednesday night in 2015
* It was an “urgent” request from a former Queensland police colleague of Mr Dutton and the minister wanted it resolved within an hour
* The woman, who was on a tourist visa, was meant to be deported that night
* Border officers found a conversation on her phone where she agreed to do some babysitting work for cash while in Australia
* The ministerial intervention briefing was done and the visa granted just before midnight
* Dutton said it was “in the public interest” for the woman to stay in Australia
* On November 1, 2015, a different au pair was detained in Adelaide after border officers found out she was planning to nanny and work at a polo event
* AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, who knew the family the woman planned to work for, got his office to contact Dutton’s office
* “There has clearly been a misunderstanding that (the woman) was intending to work for us when (the woman) is here to spend time with our family,” the Adelaide family said in an email
* McLachlan’s office contacted Dutton’s office, who requested a ministerial intervention briefing
* Australian Border Force said the woman had already worked as an au pair on a tourist visa once before and planned to do so again
* A brief was prepared recommending Dutton intervene to keep the woman in the country, but at least one ABF officer didn’t agree: “The ABF does not agree with the content, or think it appropriate that the Minister intervene.”
* There was also a risk the department would have to bear the cost of the flight already booked to send the woman home
* Dutton missed the deadline to intervene but his decision was backdated after the department was told the woman would be granted a visa on Sunday night.
(SOURCE: Home Affairs Department emails given to Senate inquiry.)