Aus to impose heavy fine on those who hire illegal workers

Melbourne: With over 100,000 people working without proper visas in Australia, the authorities said they would crack down on the illegal workers by imposing heavy fines on their employers.
The announcement came after an independent review by lawyer Stephen Howells, who said failure of migration laws to stop the problem sending the “unmistakable message” overseas that Australian authorities are toothless, and “you only have to get here” to get work.
The review said more than 100,000 illegal workers are misusing business, student and holiday visas to take Australian jobs.
Illegal workers – increasingly being caught in white-collar jobs as well as shopping centre car parks, construction sites, restaurants and agriculture – are the real economic refugees denying Australians employment, not boat people.
“Refugees who arrive by sea and who claim asylum are not part of this problem; and they are a very small number by comparison.”
When foreigners are caught working illegally, the worst penalty they face is a taxpayer-funded flight home, and this is being exploited by organised rackets, the review said.
To address the situation, the government will announce a major crackdown on employers who hire illegal workers – including a 10,000 Australian dollar fine per worker caught.
Employer groups had resisted such sanctions under the Howard government, after a 1999 review warned of the growing problem.
“We now have very clear evidence that the previous approach of better education hasn’t worked,” Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said.”The way to deal with skills shortages or labour shortages is not to embrace illegal labour.”
An online system, VEVO, now allows employers to check staff visas, and was used for 485,330 work checks last year.
Bowen said there was “simply no excuse” for employers not to use the online system.
Howells said the 2007 law had failed. Apart from one man who pleaded guilty, there had been no successful criminal prosecutions.
This was despite the Immigration Department identifying 100 breaches, and 10 cases of systematic abuse with large numbers of workers and “serious organised rackets”.
Under the Howells recommendations, employers or labour hire firms would be fined 10,000 Australian dollars per worker if they hire, refer, or enter into verbal contract to hire a non-citizen. (PTI)