Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has lashed back at Labor politicians seeking to grill him over the au pair scandal, in what amounts to Australia’s grubbiest version of “I know you are, but what am I?”
Speaking in Canberra today, Dutton said it was funny that opposition pollies have accused him of unfairly using his status to help mates out with immigration issues when Labor itself harbours folks who’ve asked for his assistance.
“Labor can ask me 10 questions every day when we go back if that’s what they want to do, but they’ll get a whack back,” Dutton threatened, adding “I’ve kept a very good list, actually, of MPs who have come to me with quirky cases.”
Dutton is the subject of a Senate enquiry, put forward by Opposition members, which seeks to get the details on Dutton’s involvement in the cases of three foreign au pairs who were granted tourist visas under unusual circumstances.
He has been accused of using his ministerial discretion to grant a tourist visa to a French national after her particular case was raised by the office of AFL boss Gillon McLachlan.
In that case, Dutton personally overturned the Border Force‘s decision to deport the 27-year-old, despite receiving advice that she was likely to breach the terms of her tourist visa.
In another case, Dutton granted a visa to an Italian national who Border Force suspected was visiting to work for the family of one of Dutton’s old Queensland Police colleagues.
There is no suggestion Dutton overstepped his abilities as a minister to intervene in those cases, nor is there any suggestion the women did end up violating their tourist visas. Dutton has also vehemently denied any wrongdoing in those cases, despite remaining tight-lipped about the details.
Still, the fact Dutton was handing out visas in such interesting circumstances while enabling such a punitive system to detain asylum seekers has drawn considerable attention. Watch this space for when the enquiry reports back next week.