Au pair reprieve ignored advice
PETER Dutton defied advice from the Australian Border Force when he intervened to stop a French au pair being deported after being lobbied by AFL boss Gill McLachlan.
Mr Dutton says he saved the nanny because he thought it was a “bit rough” for a young woman with no criminal history to get kicked out.
However, in doing so, he overruled advice from a senior ABF officer, who warned that details provided by the young woman did not support the minister stepping in.
Mr Dutton was also told there would be a “financial liability” in allowing the woman to stay, as her return airfares were already booked.
Alexandra Deuwel, 27, arrived at Adelaide airport on October 31, 2015. She was arrested by ABF officers after admitting she intended to work, in breach of her tourist visa, for Adelaide-based farmer Callum MacLachlan, who is Gill McLachlan’s second cousin.
Officers cancelled her visa and Ms Deuwel was placed in immigration detention, pending her deportation.
However, the AFL boss lobbied the minister’s office on behalf of his relatives, urging Mr Dutton to let her stay.
Mr Dutton’s chief of staff was forwarded an email – since leaked to several media outlets – written by Callum MacLachlan and his wife Skye. “There has clearly been a misunderstanding that she was intending to work for us when is here to spend time with our family, as we consider her to be family,” the couple wrote.
The minister used his discretionary powers to grant her a three-month tourist visa, on the condition she did not work.
Mr Dutton, who is now Home Affairs Minister, said he weighed up the case based on its merits, rather than the person who had referred it.
He argued that references to the woman being an au pair were “flowery language” and “complete nonsense”.
“I looked at it and thought it’s a bit rough, there’s no criminal history, she’s agreed that she wouldn’t work while she was here,” Mr Dutton (pictured) said yesterday. “As I understand it, she never overstayed the visa, hasn’t committed any offences, and I thought it was an application of common sense.”
Mr Dutton claimed “enemies in the media” were dredging the case up to “get square” for his role in bringing down Malcolm Turnbull in a leadership coup last week. “I am a person of integrity, I’ve never been compromised,” he said.