AFL Boss McLachlan Also Lobbied For Polo Player Visa
What's the go with the a̶u̶ ̶p̶a̶i̶r̶s̶ polo player?
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has revealed he helped another foreign citizen who was experiencing visa difficulties, in addition to the French au pair who was to work for his relative -- an Argentinian polo player, in 2014, when he lobbied now-Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
McLachlan offered unexpected information on Wednesday during the federal senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee inquiry into claims of an "inappropriate exercise of ministerial powers" . Home affairs minister Peter Dutton -- then immigration minister -- personally intervened to grant visas to three separate au pairs who ran into various immigration troubles when attempting to enter Australia in 2015.
One of the women was to be employed by a former police force colleague of Dutton's, while another had been previously employed by a relative of AFL boss CEO McLachlan. Dutton intervened in both cases after being lobbied by those involved.
McLachlan and the AFL's head of government relations Jude Donnelly appeared before the committee via telephone, and were grilled over how and why the AFL became involved in the case of a French au pair.
Asked whether the case of Alexandra Deuwel in 2015 had been the only time he had approached the government over a visa issue, McLachlan said he had inquired about the status of "a friend of a friend" who was hoping to travel to Australia on business.
Pressed further, McLachlan said it was a polo player from Argentina.
McLachlan is a keen polo player himself, while his relative Callum MacLachlan -- who was to employ the French au pair -- is listed online as a member of the international committee of the Australian Polo Federation.
McLachlan said he had asked Donnelly, a former government staffer, to check on the progress of the person's visa application. This was in 2014, when Morrison was the immigration minister.
"I was contacted by someone who was awaiting a business visa, a friend of a friend, who was wanting to come into the country and was waiting for their visa to be processed. They had language issues and I asked Miss Donnelly if the visa had been approved or not. So I asked her to find out the status of the application," McLachlan said.
"My understanding is the visa had already been approved and was in the process of being processed."
McLachlan said he would privately inform the committee of the name of the polo player.
The AFL CEO also detailed how and why he was approached by a relative to lobby on behalf of au pair Deuwel, who was due to be deported from Australia. McLachlan said his relative had attempted to contact the department to save her from being deported, but due to it being a Sunday, the relative had trouble reaching anyone who could help.
Donnelly was then asked to reach out to the government to make the department aware of the case.
The inquiry ended just before 3pm. Committee member and Liberal senator Eric Abetz, who had complained loudly through the hearing that the inquiry was a waste of time, later claimed the hearing had been a "beat-up" and a "non-event".
But now, after asking what's the go with the au pairs -- a question we're still not close to answering yet -- there's even more questions.