Shadow minister's office argued for killer
A CONVICTED murderer with a 40-year criminal history had the backing of the office of a Queensland federal Labor MP which repeatedly tried to stop his deportation.
The office of Shayne Neumann, Labor's would-be immigration minister, knew about John Desmond McAteer's violent, drug-fuelled crimes but wrote to the Immigration Department three times offering a reference to help stop him being kicked out of Australia.
The official correspondence on Mr Neumann's letterhead and signed by electorate officer Janice Cumming shows the representations included helping McAteer find "evidence of his good character".
"John calls into the office … to lend me poetry books, provide me copies of his poetry or simply as a courtesy when out and about,'' correspondence dated June 15, 2015, said.
"When speaking about his earlier life, recounting his addictions and lifestyle and the events leading to his drinking companion's death, John is clearly distressed and full or regret and determined to remain drug free."
In 2016 there was further correspondence to the National Character Consideration Centre, stating: "As someone who has regular contact with John - at work and in the community - I find him to be a sincere and considerate man who at 61 years of age, simply wants to continue his quiet lifestyle."
McAteer's criminal history started in 1970 with drug, stealing in the late 1970s, break-ins by the 1980s, resisting police arrest and then murder in 1987.
He was sentenced to life "with hard labour" in the Supreme Court in Brisbane in 1988.
His crime spree spanned across Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
He was convicted of assault occasioning bodily harm in 2013, triggering the process of his potential visa cancellation. He tried to appeal the decision but Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke ordered his deportation to the UK on character grounds in 2017.
The revelations shine new light on the debate about .
Labor has criticised for overruling his department's plans to kick out two women on tourist visas.
The department believed the women could receive paid work as nannies.
Labor argued Mr Dutton only intervened because he was contacted by a high-powered Australians and a former colleague, an allegation Mr Dutton has denied.
A comment was sought from Mr Neumann last night.