The Australian Government has gained crucial intelligence in its investigations into a possible labour hire scam in Victoria’s Gippsland area.
A joint operation between Immigration and Border protection investigators and Transport Safety Victoria today targeted workers on buses that were believed to be heading to a farming operation when they were stopped on the South Gippsland Highway near Longford.
One person was found to be an unlawful non-citizen and the operation has provided investigators with vital intelligence to progress their crackdown on illegal work practices.
Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, said this comes on the back of the new taskforce revealed by the Government to tackle unscrupulous practices, particularly in the labour hire industry.
“This Government is extremely serious about combatting the issue of illegal work, as well as labour hire contractors who exploit foreign workers,” Minister Cash said.
“There is no place in our community for employers or contractors who mistreat foreign workers or profit from underpaying them and we will actively pursue prosecution and heavy fines for both individuals and companies.”
“This is why we are establishing a dedicated taskforce to investigate this sort of unlawful activity. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will work closely with the Fair Work Ombudsman and other enforcement agencies to ensure that visa fraud, work scams and worker conditions and entitlements are swiftly investigated.”
The Minister praised the combined work of officers from Transport Safety Victoria, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Victoria Police and Vic Roads in today’s operation, who all took part in today’s operation.
Employers found to have employed, referred or contracted an illegal worker can face fines and civil penalties up to $76,500 per illegal worker under Employer Sanctions legislation.
Individuals who knowingly or recklessly use illegal workers face fines of up to $20,400 and/or two years imprisonment (per illegal worker); while companies face fines of up to $102,000 (per illegal worker). People who suspect illegal workers or labour scams can contact the Department’s Dob-In line on 1800 009 623.