Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton overturned the visa cancellation of an Italian national who Border Force feared would work for one of Dutton’s old Queensland Police colleagues, the ABC reports.
Documents obtained by the national broadcaster show that Dutton used his significant ministerial privileges to intervene in the case of Michela Marchisio, who was detained at Brisbane International Airport in 2015.
Despite a Border Force officer informing Dutton’s office that Marchisio was likely to violate the terms of a tourist visa by working as an au pair during her stay, Dutton granted her a three-month tourist visa.
The ABC reports Border Force considered Marchisio likely to work for the family of Russell and Nicole Keag. Russell Keag worked for Queensland Police at the same time as Dutton in the 1990s.
There are a few caveats – it’s not clear if the Keags directly asked Dutton for support regarding that case, if Dutton was previously aware of Marchisio’s working relationship with the family, or if Marchisio actually breached the terms of her visa during her visit.
Still, the optics are not good for Dutton, who was recently revealed to have intervened in a similar case brought forward by the office of AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, regarding a French national who Border Force feared would violate her tourist visa by working in Australia.
Dutton strenuously denied any wrongdoing in that case, saying it was one of many instances where he used his powers of ministerial discretion to help out someone caught in the bureaucratic quagmire of Australia’s border policies.
Federal Labor launched a Senate enquiry into the whole au pair deal, and those findings are expected to be tabled next month.