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Transcript of press conference: Parliament House, Canberra: 11 September 2018: Peter Dutton jobs for mates scandal

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SUBJECT/S: Peter Dutton jobs for mates scandal

MURRAY WATT: Well with Peter Dutton it’s first au pairs and now it’s jobs for police mates. Let’s just have a look at what has unfolded over the last 24 hours in this growing scandal around Peter Dutton.

Yesterday afternoon he finally released an email from his former police colleague, who made contact with his office, and it seems him directly, seeking special favours to get an au pair a special visa allowed into the country. That email shows very clearly that there is a personal connection between Peter Dutton and the person who he has assisted to get this au pair visa. So it is very clear that he has misled Parliament about the connection he had with the person involved. Then yesterday evening, we had a further statement from Roman Quaedvlieg, the former head of Australian Border Force. Peter Dutton’s handpicked head of Border Force. A further statement which indicates that there may well be a third instance where Peter Dutton and his office have personally intervened, against departmental advice, to approve a visa for an au pair who admitted an intention to work in breach of her visa on entering Australian soil.

And now this morning, we have new revelations, that, and new allegations, that Peter Dutton intervened to secure jobs for two former police colleagues in Queensland. And those of us from Queensland will recognise a lot of the names floating around in that report. There are some of the most suspicious names from pre-Fitzgerald Inquiry Queensland are swirling around this story now as well.

So first it’s au pairs, second it’s jobs for mates.

I think what we’re starting to learn about Peter Dutton is that the only way you actually get anything from him done is to be a mate of his from the police force, to be a donor to the Liberal Party or to have some other kind of personal connection. Most Australians don’t have those kinds of connections and they have to wait in line, but if you are a mate of Peter Dutton it seems you get special treatment.

Peter Dutton, the time has come for Peter Dutton to come clean about this. He’s got to release all documents involving the au pairs, the jobs for mates, and he’s got to explain himself to parliament.

JOURNALIST: It seems like you guys are really gunning for him at the moment, it’s a bit suspicious the fact that you’ve got him high on your sights.

WATT: Well I think you’ve got to wonder where some of these leaks are coming from. It may be that there’s former Border Force officials, but we know that 45 of Mr Dutton’s colleagues didn’t want him to be the leader. We know that the Liberal Party is leaking on each other, on an almost constant basis. I think that the people in Australia do want to make sure that their Ministers, especially senior ones like Peter Dutton, don’t play favourites, apply the law equally, whether you’re a polo player, a donor of the Liberal Party, a mate from the Queensland Police, or just an average person on the street, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that Peter Dutton and his government don’t do that.

JOURNALIST: So last week’s senate estimates, where you were speaking to those migration lawyers, there’s one kind of rule for people trying to get to migration, you bring your cases forward.

WATT: Exactly, the evidence that we took at the senate inquiry last week from migration lawyers show that, unless you’re one of Peter Dutton’s mates, or a polo player or a donor to the Liberal Party, you’ve got to wait in line like everyone else. Migration lawyers gave us evidence about the incredibly, lengthy, difficult process, they have to go through to secure visa’s for their clients. Lots of paperwork, lots of delays, lots of phone calls to the department, but what we’re seeing here is that people with close connections to Peter Dutton, can pick up the phone or send an email on a Sunday afternoon and get a turnaround in a couple of hours. It’s that kind of double standard that most Australians don’t want to see happening within their government and that’s what is happening, it seems under Peter Dutton.

JOURNALIST: Is there a problem with the immigration department as well, because of you’ve got to send an email and you can’t make a phone call to get your case pushed through, I mean isn’t there something wrong with the immigration department and how it works?

WATT: Well, I’ve got no doubt that the Immigration Department is labouring under a very big workload, it like many other departments in this government has suffered cut backs from Scott Morrison as Treasurer and before him, Malcom Turnbull and Tony Abbott. They’ve got a very big workload and it does take time for them to work through their system. I think most Australians are prepare to go through the proper system, acknowledge that it is going to take time for these things to happen, but they don’t want to see some people getting special treatment and that’s what’s happening here.

Ok. Thanks everyone.