18 September 2003

Inquiry told of agent's 50% strike rate with Ruddock

The Lebanese travel agent Karim Kisrwani had a 50 per cent success rate in having visas granted when he lobbied for the personal intervention of the Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, while the Refugee Review Tribunal succeeded in only 17 per cent of cases.

The figures were released by the Immigration Department yesterday to the parliamentary inquiry into the discretionary powers of the Immigration Minister.

The inquiry was sparked by a series of allegations made in Parliament earlier this year about links between political donations and the granting of visas.

Mr Kisrwani, who is a close friend of Mr Ruddock, became a key figure in what has been dubbed the 'cash-for-visas' affair.

Although not a registered migration agent, Mr Kisrwani came in equal fourth - excluding parliamentarians or major legal or immigration firms - of those who wrote to Mr Ruddock asking him to intervene in immigration cases, the department's figures show.

Ruddock once described self-harm as a technique for achieving a preferred migration outcome. It's hard to avoid the opinion that people will do almost anything to achieve a preferred migration outcome, including making large political donations.

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