Peter Dutton has insisted his department, and the country as a whole, won’t be “taken for a ride” by people posing a potential threat, after a convicted criminal pretending to be a gay Christian was allowed to stay in the country.
The Iraqi father-of-seven has managed to avoid deportation, after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) once again overturned a decision by Dutton’s immigration department, which had previously decided to deport the man.
Speaking on the Miranda Devine podcast, the immigration minister said he may now have the opportunity to overrule the controversial decision,but declined to confirm if he would in this case.
“In some of these cases there are circumstances where I can overturn a decision by the AAT. People can have their day in court but in the end the visa cancellation numbers now are at about 3400, the highest number in this federation,” he said.
“We’re concentrating on people who are posing serious threats and we aren’t going to be taken for a ride by people who are pretending to be something they’re not, or pretending to be of a sexual orientation when they’re not, because they think that gives them a particular visa outcome.”
The AAT provides independent reviews on decisions made by government departments. Its panellists are not publicly named, although its most senior executives are, and most of its decisions are not made available to the public. This case was, however, made public and the documents show that the man – who has been claiming a disability support pension in Australia since 2014, and has stacked up almost 30 criminal convictions since arriving in Australia by boat in 1999 – told authorities his alleged sexuality and religious conversion could cause him to be him persecuted if he were forced to return to Iraq.
After formally warning him in 2010 that further convictions would put his visa in danger, Dutton’s department finally stripped the refugee of his visa in December 2016, resulting in him being put in immigration detention. It was then that the man applied to the AAT to overthrow the decision, and the panel has now given him his Australian visa back.
While the AAT found “no substance” to his claim to be a gay Christian, they did find that the man would be unable to receive the care and medication he needs for his mental and physical health problems, if he were sent back to Iraq.
Dutton added on the show: “My job is to make sure that we have integrity in the migration system that starts with securing our borders it means cancelling visas of criminals and we’ll continue to do that. We’re going to continue to work hard with the police and with intelligence agencies to identify those people particularly the child sex offenders.”
Branding Labor “pathetic and hopeless when it comes to border protection”, he added: “I won’t be taking lectures from any of the left when it comes to keeping our country safe and secure,” – before comparing Bill Shorten to a “weak pathetic Kevin Rudd”.
Meanwhile, he went on to express his wishes to welcome more white South African farmers into the country, as he praised their hard-working attitudes and willingness to integrate themselves into society.
“If you see the footage and read the stories, it’s a horrific circumstance that they face, and Australia has a refugee and humanitarian program as well as a number of other visa programs where we have the potential to help some of these people that are being persecuted,” he told Devine.
“I’ve asked my department to look at options and ways in which we can provide some assistance… People need help, and they need help from a civilised country like ours. More importantly than that, they want to work hard, they want to contribute to a country like Australia… We want people that come here and abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, not lead a life on welfare, and I think these people deserve special attention.”
He said the department was now looking at ways to offer specific visas to individuals.