Questions are being raised about the visa activities of some of Australia’s biggest infrastructure and mining players amid a probe into working visas.
The latest investigation centres around allegations that Irish workers have fraudulently obtained 457 visas to work on key national projects include the multibillion dollar Queensland Curtis Liquefied Natural Gas project and the Sino iron project in Western Australia.
Suspicions have been aroused ever since a series of revelations in Fairfax Media outlets claiming that dozens of overseas employees had told the immigration department they would be working in skilled roles, such as a project administrator, when their actual role involved a menial or unskilled job.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has confirmed that a new investigations division is being created to target entities seeking to commit visa fraud here in Australia’. It will also investigate transnational organised crime syndicates.
It is understood that the new division will adopt a stronger focus and approach to border crime, whether that crime is related to attempts to circumvent physical border controls or to rort the visa system.
It is claimed that immigration investigators have recentlyinterviewed at least five whistle blowers, including two who previously contacted the immigration department about the rorting but were initially ignored or had their complaints subject to only a superficial investigation.
Immigration officers are now examining allegations that dozens of overseas workers may have lied about their qualifications or job role in order to get a skilled migration visa. It is one of the biggest investigations of its kind.
It comes at a time when the Australian government is seeking to review the 457 visa system and considering toning down the entry requirements for short term working visas. But trade unions in particular have been calling for the visa stream to be tightened, not slackened.
‘Unions have always had concerns that employers are abusing the 457 visa programme to bring in cheaper labour from overseas. Cracking down on bad employers is just a band aid solution when in fact the whole 457 visa system needs to be fixed,’ said Ged Kearney, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
‘A full Senate Inquiry into the temporary visa workforce is the only way to stop foreign workers from being exploited and to make sure employers are genuinely trying to recruit Australian workers before looking overseas,’ she added.
The cases being examined include a company sponsoring a female Irish worker even though she had left the company, to help her get permanent residency. In another case, an unskilled Irish labourer submitted a handwritten resume only to have it typed up and rewritten. He was then employed on a 457 visa as a project administrator.
Courtesy of Ray Clancy – Australia Forum
It’s about time large companies of the same ilk as mentioned in Ray Clancy’s article, be brought to account for the abuses they have perpetrated on the system, with apparent impunity- either by the Immigration department not being inclined- for whatever reason- or more likely the case- not being properly tooled up to to monitor and effectively control the Temporary 457 visa program. These stories clearly show a concerning attitude that the these players feel immune to the same regulations, presumably because of their perceived economic value to the Australian economy.
They don’t realise that by adopting this air of entitlement, they are undermining the nation’s position and impacting the local labour market, effectively weakening Australia’ ability to compete in world markets.
Why should small to medium businesses be forced to comply with the restrictive 457 sponsoring rules, when the larger operators with political or economic clout flout these same rules? Why when they are caught out are they not heavily penalised?
Its an absolute disc\grace and whilst I’m not normally on the same page as the unions, I am on this topic which demands a rigorous examination an objective legal authority with teeth and whose recommendations are actioned in toto and not simply cherry picked.