TWO FACES: The LNP MP who talks tough on boats, his staffer and the immigration racket

peterlindsay Peter Lindsay, the retiring LNP federal Member of Parliament in Queensland and his senior staffer have been accused of having double standards on immigration, talking tough on boats while doing all they can to bring foreign workers to Townsville.

Lindsay’s website contains emphatically anti-boats talk, which is believed to play well in northern Queensland:

Boat loads of asylum seekers infiltrating Australian waters are exploiting the Labor Government’s penetrable borders and using Kevin Rudd’s policies as a “marketing tool”, according to the Coalition.
While reports that there are another six boat loads are on their way to Australia are being sidestepped by Mr Rudd, the Government has been forced to expand the Christmas Island Detention centre to avoid transferring incoming asylum seekers to the mainland.

Despite this strong anti-asylum seeker sentiment in Townsville, there are chronic labour shortages in the area due to the mining boom which have prompted many businesspeople to seek out the services of those who can assist them in obtaining cheap overseas labour.

The same website reveals that the outgoing LNP MP Peter Lindsay employs Steve Hawker, a former Liberal candidate for the Townsville council and a registered migration agent.

His registration is listed  here. And his migration racket website can be seen here. His listing as a self-styled ‘senior adviser’ to Peter Lindsay is here.

The mobile phone number he lists on Peter Lindsay’s website is the same mobile phone number he lists in a promotion in the Ukrainian language for his business Freeman Migration Services Australia.

Another site makes it clear that the Liberal staffer is also promoting his immigration services in Pakistan.

He appears to charge nearly ten thousand dollars for each successful visa.

That the MP employs a currently active migration agent is a serious enough problem, with many potential conflicts of interest.

This unusual and morally ambiguous situation appears not to have been reported previously, despite Townsville having its own media market.

Those familiar with the operation of federal electorate offices say the possible conflicts of interest by having electorate officers also running migration agent businesses are many and serious. MPs are frequently invited to provide letters of support to those making applications to the Department of Immigration. The idea is that they only do this with good reason and certainly not for any commercial benefit.

But it gets worse for the MP and his so-called “right-hand man”. VEXNEWS understands that Townsville has been abuzz with talk that Hawker and Lindsay’s perceived conflict of interests may have descended into even more dangerous territory.

VEXNEWS has learned that the Townsville Bulletin has been sitting on a story they researched earlier this year where a local businessman Sona Singh Bhela is said to have made gravely serious allegations against the Member of Parliament and his staffer.

The VEXNEWS Investigations Unit has obtained documents in relation to this matter, which have not been corroborated or verified, but which raise troubling issues that could do much to undermine the LNP’s strong position in the northern Australian seat on unauthorised arrivals.

Because they haven’t been corroborated, we have decided that we ought not publish them.

But what is beyond question is that LNP MP Peter Lindsay’s so-called senior adviser was running a business bringing migrants to Australia while working for the taxpayer and while his boss was positioning his party as strongly anti-boats. We understand that Steve Hawker had this business prior to working for Lindsay but has certainly maintained it during his time as an electorate officer.

Peter Lindsay has been a popular MP in Townsville, the LNP’s Ewen Jones will be hoping to draw on that community support to prevail in the hotly contested marginal seat.

An observer of the Townsville political scene told VEXNEWS:

“When hapless Immigration Minister Chris Evans referred to the boats issue “killing the government,” he was talking about the political damage it did in seats like Herbert. The LNP will need to be careful to ensure that none of its prominent figures whether they be migration agents or real estate agents are seen to be talking loudly tough on immigration when the TV cameras are on while slyly whispering about the sweet deals they can arrange for migrants in return for cash. It may well be perfectly legal but it’s not ethical and it’s not consistent with their tough talk.”

UPDATE 3PM: A very charming Peter Lindsay MP has been in contact with VEXNEWS and explained that his electorate officer’s business as a migration agent was done in entirely his own time, “after hours and on weekends.” He made the quite valid point that there is a distinction to be drawn between unauthorised arrivals and those people properly coming to Australia in the ordinary way. He also strongly disputed the bona fides of the businessman who has made claims in sworn statements about immigration matters referring to them as “bitter and twisted sharpies” engaged in quite outrageous immigration practices. The retiring MP who noted (with some relief we think) that he would no longer be an MP as at 4.59pm today after ably serving since 1996 remarked that he was proud of the work of his office (including Steve Hawker) in bringing people into Australia as immigrants and that he was at all times careful to avoid conflicts of interest of the kind we highlighted above. We have no reason to doubt his word but wonder whether the popular marginal seat MP was understood by his constituents to be as pro-immigration as he now seems to be.

UPDATE 4PM: Tony Abbott reading VEXNEWS earlier today on his Blackberry at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce luncheon where Peter Costello was apparently in raucous form. ‘Abbo’ as his Liberal chums call him seems unimpressed with the idea of Liberal electorate officers moonlighting as immigration agents to arrange visas for people from Pakistan and the Ukraine, even on their own time.



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13 responses to “TWO FACES: The LNP MP who talks tough on boats, his staffer and the immigration racket

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention VEXNEWS 2010© | TWO FACES: The LNP MP who talks tough on boats, his staffer and the immigration racket --

  2. on a boat

    Andrew, MPs and their officers are allowed to provide immigration assistance under the Migration Act 1958.

    However Migration agents are not allowed to provide both migration assistance and migration advice under the same act. The statutory authority MARA can investigate.

  3. Madam Lash

    There shopuld be an inquiry into Migration Agents…they are the biggest rip off merchants in Oz

  4. Adrian Jackson

    Strewth Hawker (pictured) looks fatter and uglier than my Federal MP

  5. Peter Lindsay

    Dear Editor
    When allegations are made, professional journalists always check the other side of the story.
    The Townsville Bulletin did and so did the Courier Mail. Both did not publish because there was no basis in fact. By not checking with me you have just confirmed that your story is not credible. I have nothing to hide and neither does Mr Hawker.
    Peter Lindsay

  6. Stooge

    Well said Mr Lindsay.

    Andrew, I’m afraid that you’re “barking up the wrong Bush”.

    Being pro-immigration doesn’t mean you’re pro boats. I think you’ve taken a leap into the beyond with this…

  7. stop taking poor story tips from bedwetters

    Yeh, there is a MASSIVE difference between those who come here under the migration program and those who are seeking asylum.
    This is a pretty BIG BASIC conceptual mistake.
    Have to wonder which pea brain bedwetter with no education (or an IQ of room temp) thought to feed you this as a story.
    If it was an advisor, just let us know which party, so I can be sure NOT to vote for that party. With “talent” like that giving advice on my taxpayer dollar, this country is destined for third world status.
    It sounds as if it could be from the same gene pool who were providing rocket science advice on home insulation etc.

  8. Coalition are not racists -- hardly a revelation

    Great, so the Coalition can’t be labelled racists. I already knew that.

  9. Anonymous

    who the fuck is this vexnews [deleted – profanity] ?

  10. Immicon

    Is he a licensed Immigration Agent? If he is then it is clearly a conflict of interest. If he is not then he is in breach of then Immigration Act that prevents non licensed individuals from operating as Immigration Agents.

  11. Arther conan doyle

    ? Has Lindsay ever written a letter of comfort for one/or more of his Staffers clients.

  12. Don't hit me again massser.

    The workers brought in to do farm labour, the back breaking work usually done by travelling seasonal workers or pickers, are no better than to overseas pilots brought in by Hawke to break the strike for fairness and decent hours and pay by Pilots.

    The foreign workers are paid a pittance compared with what the going rate is for peice work, and half or less that the basic hourly rate for farmhands.

    This is an area where unions have gutlessly turned a blind eye, allowing the exploitation of overseas travellers and work visa holders to do work that legitimate pickers (who do ten time the work in half the time)rely on to make a decent living.

    Forcing professional seasonal workers off the road and onto the dole it the result, because they will not work for a tenth of the pay they know they can make, and wont go onto farms with scab foreign labour.

    Got a smart arse answer for that one Peter Lindsay ?

  13. joe of townsville

    It is guite enlightening to note that public office holders run businesses connected to the the very issues that impose “fear Factor” on public interest. It is out tax payers money that funds Steve Hawker’s lucerative businesses as his boss to run office using the same issue as a political card. It is time ATO keep a check on these so claled politicians and their interest in public affairs. It is also time for the government to take a tough stand to impose laws so that people like Steve Hawker and Peter Lindsey cant exploit their positions.

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