Australian Border Force (ABF) officers, Queensland Police Service and the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) have targeted a suspected illegal foreign worker operation in regional Queensland.
A suspected illegal worker ring in Australia has been foiled with 27 workers now facing deportation from the country, it has been announced.
Some 27 illegal workers were found at a strawberry farm in southern Queensland by Australian Border Force officers in an investigation carried out along with the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Peter Dutton, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, said it was another good result in the fight against those who continue to employ illegal foreign workers and foreign nationals who abuse Australia’s visa programmes.
‘The Government is serious about ensuring that we have integrity in our visa programmes and we will continue to target individuals and businesses involved in visa fraud, illegal work and the exploitation of foreign nationals,’ he explained.
‘Employers have a responsibility for ensuring that their workers, whether domestic or foreign, are employed legally and that they receive all of their respective entitlements. Those employers seeking to bypass Australia’s workplace and immigration laws are on notice,’ he pointed out.
‘The ABF is working closely with law enforcement agencies and the FWO to track you down and prosecute you. Likewise, foreign nationals who enter Australia are expected to abide by the conditions of their visa,’ he added.
The Government established a specialist multi-agency Taskforce in 2015, known as Taskforce Cadena, to target and disrupt the organisers of visa fraud, illegal work and the exploitation of foreign workers.
Taskforce Cadena brings together the resources and capabilities of the ABF and the FWO, plus other agencies including the Australian Federal Police, ASIC and the ATO, to investigate and prosecute illegal practices in the temporary visa programmes.
Since its inception, Taskforce Cadena has been active in disrupting and disbanding illegal worker operations, with 36 warrants having been executed as part of 13 separate operations.
Employers found to engaging illegal workers or exploiting foreign nationals may face a range of penalties under the Migration Act and Fair Work Act including hefty fines or criminal prosecution.
Last year the DIBP cancelled over 60,000 visas for a variety of reasons. Nearly 15,000 cancellations were due to overstaying visas.