Dutton AFL Au Pair Email Leak Referred To Federal Police
The 'what's the go with the au pairs?' Senate inquiry has kicked off.
The Australian Federal Police has been asked to investigate the leaking of emails showing Peter Dutton overruled his department's advice and granted a visa to a French au pair after lobbying from the AFL.
The federal senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee opened its inquiry into claims of an "inappropriate exercise of ministerial powers" when home affairs minister 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.
It has been revealed 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 Gillon McLachlan. Dutton intervened in both cases after being lobbied by those involved.
READ MORE: What's The Go With The Au Pairs?
The Guardian reported last month that the case linked to McLachlan, that of a French au pair named Alexandra Deuwel, had been resolved quickly on a Sunday, according to emails allegedly between Dutton's office, Border Force and the AFL.
The emails published on the news site showed Clive Murray, assistant commissioner of the Strategic Border Command Centre, said his office would be “providing detail which does not support the minister intervening” in Deuwel's case. However, Dutton intervened anyway, granting her a tourist visa.
On Wednesday, home affairs department secretary Michael Pezzullo told the inquiry the email leak had been referred to the AFP.
"In these circumstances, it's obligatory on a secretary to make reference to the federal police, and that's occurred in this case," he said.
Pezzullo said there may be a criminal investigation into the email leak.
"Document transmission is traced down to the level of printing, down to the level of transmission to external accounts," he said.
Earlier in the hearing, department officials said Dutton had used his ministerial powers to grant more than 4000 visas since he became minister in 2014, and Dutton has been talking this week about how often he intervenes in visa cases in an attempt to downplay the au pair cases. However, department officials conceded just 25 of these were tourist visas of the type granted to the au pairs, and only in 14 cases to June this year.
Pezzullo conceded "may very well be the case" that the Brisbane case, linked to Dutton's former police colleague, could have been the first time Dutton had intervened to grant a tourist visa.
"For all the talk we've seen over recent days about the thousands of cases where minister Dutton has compassionately, generously intervened to assist people, sometimes at the request of Labor MPs and senators, it could be that it’s as few as 14 times that he’s intervened to grant someone this type of visa, the first being the Brisbane case," Labor senator Murray Watt said.
But really, the big question everyone wants to know is, what's the go with the au pairs?
The inquiry continues on Wednesday, with AFL officials due to appear in the afternoon.