The committee (except for the Coalition senators) has found:
- It is the view of the committee that Minister Dutton had a clear personal connection and existing relationship with the intended employer of the au pair in the Brisbane case. Given his definitive answer in the House of Representatives, it is the view of the committee the minister misled Parliament in relation to this matter.
- It is the view of the committee that Minister Dutton acted expeditiously in using his ministerial intervention powers to grant a tourist visa to the au pair in the Adelaide case. Whilst the use of these powers is within his rights as the relevant minister, the committee recognises this request for intervention may not have come to the attention of Minister Dutton prior to the individual’s removal from Australia if it was not for the fact it was raised through personal connections. Minister Dutton appears to have failed to give consideration to the damage to public confidence in the integrity of the immigration system that his actions could cause and, at best, reflects very poor judgement on the part of the minister.
- In the Adelaide case, Minister Dutton signed the intervention documents despite acting ministerial arrangements being in place. No evidence presented assured the committee that there were any reasons why Minister Dutton signed the ministerial intervention in the Adelaide case rather than acting Minister Keenan, heightening perceptions that Minister Dutton acted due to a personal interest.
- It is the view of the committee that substantial inconsistencies in evidence provided by the department during the course of the inquiry leaves significant doubt as to whether all relevant ministerial interventions have been captured by the inquiry.
- Given the broad powers of the immigration minister, any perception of conflict of interest or corruption in relation to the use of ministerial intervention powers is detrimental to the integrity of Australia’s immigration system. While these powers are intended to ensure legitimate cases of humanitarian need or public interest can be addressed, Minister Dutton’s interventions in these au pair cases do not reflect community expectations of how such powers should be used.
- At best, Minister Dutton’s actions have resulted in a perception, if not an actual, conflict of interest. To ensure transparent and accountable decisions, the government should give serious consideration to strengthening the minister’s statement to parliament, requiring the minister’s statement to declare that the ministerial intervention was made in accordance with the ministerial guidelines, thereby maintaining community confidence in the integrity of Australia’s immigration system.