Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed the family of a terminally ill Pakistani man will be allowed to visit him in Australia, mere moments after telling media that it was "the right decision" to reject the family's visa application.
Hassan Asif, 25, moved to Melbourne last year to study. He was recently diagnosed with advanced skin cancer and told he has only weeks to live. Reportedly too sick to travel home to be with his family, his family had applied for a visa to visit him before he dies.
However, the Immigration Department reportedly blocked the family's application, saying they may overstay their visa or refuse to leave Australia.
More than 22,000 people have signed an online petition asking the government to review their decision, with widespread public outcry over the ruling. Speaking to media on Wednesday afternoon, Dutton backed his department's decision and said he, as minister, had no power to intervene in the case.
"Yesterday I asked the post in Islamabad to look at this issue and to request an additional application from the mother and from the brother," he said.
"The decision-maker in relation to this matter made the right decision on the information that I have available to me."
"This young man is in a terrible circumstance and the decision-maker has to weigh up not only the personal circumstances, but also what is in the national interest," he continued.
"If people decision-makers believe that people aren’t going to return to their country of origin… then obviously that can result in huge expenditure over many years to the Australian taxpayer."
Just minutes after defending the decision, however, Dutton then told media that the visas had in fact been approved.
#BREAKING: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has told Sky News visas for Hassan Asif's family have been approved.— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) December 23, 2015