New information has emerged about a scandal involving Gladys Berejiklian’s disgraced ex-lover who is at the centre of a corruption probe.
Most people who obtained visas from Daryl Maguire in his so-called ‘cash-for-visas’ scheme remain in Australia, and some have become citizens.
The revelations over the disgraced ex-NSW MP came as Home Affairs fronted a Senate committee on Friday.
In testimony to the New South Wales ICAC in October, McGuire admitted to selling visas to 14 foreigners as part of a ‘cash-for-visas’ scam.
Under questioning, Home Affairs confirmed nine of the 14 remained in Australia, and three had progressed to citizenship.
Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally described the revelation as “extraordinary”.
“How did we get to the point where three people became citizens of the country when, according to Mr McGuire, that he fraudulently got them into Australia?” she asked.
“What kind of border control is this, honestly?”
In October, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitted to ICAC she had a five-year affair with Mr McGuire that continued even after he resigned in 2018 over a corruption scandal.
“This is a new one. You’ve got a Liberal member of parliament, who happens to be having an affair with the Liberal Premier. He’s selling visas out the backdoor and these people progress to citizenship,” Ms Keneally said.
But Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo said the Department had a legal process to work through, regardless of Maguire’s admission.
He assured the committee anyone found to have fraudulently obtained visas would have them stripped.
“I would be as outraged as you appear to be Senator, if that were the case,” he said.
“I don’t care what party he’s in, I don’t care what personal relationship he’s been in.
“What matters to officers of my department is lawfully acquired information. We will follow the law and, if it’s appropriate, we will sanction the kind of behaviour you’re describing.”
Mr Pezzullo said the powers to take away citizenship were held by the Home Affairs and Immigration Ministers.
“If they’ve obtained citizenship fraudulently, the advice to the Minister will be: take it off them,” Mr Pezzullo said.
Home Affairs confirmed in October it was assisting NSW anti-corruption watchdog in its investigation into the alleged scam.
Border Force chief Michael Outram said that the three who gained citizenship did so before this point.
Home Affairs confirmed it knew the identity of the five visa recipients currently overseas.