Australia

'A nanny state': Bill Shorten roasts Peter Dutton over au pair drama

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Labor leader Bill Shorten pulled no punches over the coalition's leadership woes in a fiery speech to the party faithful in Queensland on Saturday.

A buoyant Bill Shorten saved his biggest opening zinger for Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton during a speech in Queensland on Saturday.

The Labor leader said much had changed since his last speech to the Queensland Labor annual state conference: Malcolm Turnbull had left the building, Julie Bishop was on the backbench, and Mr Dutton is in "all sorts of trouble."

"I mean seriously, what is the go with the au pairs?" he quipped.

Bill Shorten has taken aim at Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
Bill Shorten has taken aim at Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
AAP

"Who would have thought such an arch-conservative, inspiration to the Institute of Public Affairs, was secretly working towards a nanny state?"

Mr Dutton's intervention to save two au pairs from being deported has been savaged as "unprecedented" and "an appalling breach of standards", according to migration agent Julie Williams.

Later the same year, he granted a visa to Italian au pair Michela Marchisio who was facing deportation for reportedly planning to work for a former Queensland police colleague.

Au pair Alexandra Deuwel was initially refused a tourist visa over concerns she planned to work.
Au pair Alexandra Deuwel was initially refused a tourist visa over concerns she planned to work.
AAP

"I haven't seen anything like this and I've been practicing close to 20 years. It's unprecedented," she told SBS News. 

 Mr Dutton used his ministerial powers to stop the Border Force deporting the young women suspected of planning to work in Australia despite holding tourist visas.

The Home Affairs Minister freed French au pair Alexandra Deuwel from immigration detention in 2015 after being lobbied by AFL boss Gil McLachlan.

Peter Dutton has been forced to defend his intervention.
Peter Dutton has been forced to defend his intervention.
AAP

Mr Dutton said, via a statement, he made the "decisions on the merit of individual cases according to the law".

"I make a decision that I believe is in the best interest of our country. I do it every day with visas," he told 2GB radio on Friday.

"That's the whole reason for ministerial intervention, because you believe the department has made a decision that is not right."

Earlier, Mr Dutton said he acted to assist Ms Deuwel because he thought it was a "bit rough" for a young woman with no criminal history to get kicked out of the country.
 

Prime Minister of the Week

Mr Shorten also used his address to the party faithful to also take aim at Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accusing the Liberal party of "losing the will to govern".

He said the "prime minister this week" Scott Morrison was still the treasurer who had voted for cuts to penalty rates and against a royal commission into the banks.

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten arrives with his wife Chloe to address the annual Queensland Labor state conference at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten arrives with his wife Chloe to address the annual Queensland Labor state conference at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
AAP

Mr Shorten committed to ensuring all of Queensland, in particular regional parts of the state, was looked after under a Labor government.

To that end, Mr Shorten promised $500 million for up to 3000km of roads and up to 300 "wider, stronger bridges" to be rolled out in conjunction with the state government.

The bumper allocation shows how Labor values Queensland as the key to the upcoming election, with up to seven seats able to be won from the coalition.

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