Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. Picture: David Gray/Pool Photo via AP
Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. Picture: David Gray/Pool Photo via AP

Au pair decision was ‘common sense’: Dutton

PETER Dutton says he personally intervened to save a French au pair from deportation because he thought it was a "bit rough" for a young woman with no criminal history to get kicked out of the country.

As immigration minister in November 2015, Mr Dutton intervened to free 27-year-old Alexandra Deuwel from immigration detention after his office was lobbied by AFL boss Gil McLachlan.

Mr Dutton, who is now Home Affairs minister, said he weighed up the case based on its merit rather than the person who had referred it.

"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 I was here," he told 2GB radio this morning.

"As I understand it, she never overstayed the visa, hasn't committed any offences, and I thought it was an application of common sense."

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan lobbied Peter Dutton’s office to stop au pair Alexandra Deuwel from being kicked out of Australia.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan lobbied Peter Dutton’s office to stop au pair Alexandra Deuwel from being kicked out of Australia.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has railed against intimidation, as senior Liberal women deny the party has a bullying problem after federal MP Julia Banks announced she would quit.

Mr Morrison said the party's whip Nola Marino was yet to raise any formal complaints with him, while other Liberal MPs claimed working in politics is just "rough and tough".

But Labor Senator Penny Wong hit back at suggestions bullying claims are an over-reaction, saying the problem had been compounded by insensitive coalition MPs like Craig Kelly dismissing Ms Banks' concerns.

"We're talking about somebody who was elected and said she was bullied and intimidated which led to her resigning from parliament," Senator Wong told Sky News.

Senator Penny Wong says Scott Morrison needs to take complaints of bullying seriously. Picture: Sean Davey
Senator Penny Wong says Scott Morrison needs to take complaints of bullying seriously. Picture: Sean Davey

"Peter Dutton, in whose name this alleged bullying took place, needs to front up. Did he know about it? What did he know?

"Scott Morrison can't keep this under wraps, someone has resigned from parliament and he has to ensure that action is taken on this."

Ms Banks will not recontest her marginal Melbourne seat at the next election, calling out bad behaviour from both within her party and Labor.

"I have no truck with bullying … in any workplace. I have no truck with intimidation," the Prime Minister told reporters in Sydney.

The party's women's council chair Helen Kroger denied there was a bullying culture, describing politics as a "rough and tough" game. She added last week's leadership spill which Ms Banks called the "last straw" was a unique environment.

"I feel really sorry for her, but politics is clearly not for everyone," Ms Kroger told ABC radio.

"I do not believe there is a culture of bullying and intimidation in the Liberal Party."

Former minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who backed Peter Dutton in the leadership spill, was critical of Malcolm Turnbull's insistence on a petition with a majority of names to call another party room meeting.

"The insistence on the petition brought undue and unnecessary escalation of tension," Senator Fierravanti-Wells told the ABC.

She said colleagues had told her they felt pressure, but denied there was a culture of intimidation.

Ms Kroger's ex-husband and Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger said he was not aware of bullying complaints within the party, but admitted he hasn't spoken to Ms Banks for three months.



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