Illegal workers from Malaysia to be sent home after raids

Police. Photo: Valerie Horton / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Police. Photo: Valerie Horton / Fraser Coast Chronicle Valerie Horton

AN EARLY-morning raid on a Mulgowie property saw 22 people arrested for immigration offences.

The raids, part of a nationwide immigration operation, were carried out by Department of Immigration and Federal Police.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the raids showed the government would not put up with "unscrupulous employers and exploitation of workers", despite most businesses doing what he called "the right thing".

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration declined to release the name of the Mulgowie business.

"As the farming business near Gatton where 22 illegal workers were detained last week is still the subject of investigations by the department and the Fair Work Ombudsman, it would be inappropriate to name the business at this point," the spokesperson said.

"Investigators are still conducting inquiries in relation to the employment of these workers, involving both the business owner and a labour hire contractor associated with this business, however at this point no sanctions or charges have been applied."

The spokesperson said employers convicted under Commonwealth legislation for employing illegal workers could face fines of up to $20,400 and two years' imprisonment, while companies could face fines of up to $102,000 per illegal worker.

"The department conducted an employer awareness visit to this particular business in 2013 and it has also previously received Illegal Worker Warning notices in regard to the employment of illegal workers."

The 22 illegal workers included 16 Malaysian men and five Malaysian women, who had all overstayed visitor visas and held no work rights in Australia, the spokesperson said.

"Another Malaysian male at the farm was found to hold a current visitor visa with no work rights and that visa was immediately cancelled by compliance officers.

"All 22 people were detained and transferred to Wickham Point Immigration Detention Facility in Darwin, where they will be removed from Australia at the earliest opportunity."


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