QUEENSLAND employers are being reminded to check their foreign workers have valid visas, after a crackdown on unlawful non-citizens and illegal workers in the Bundaberg area this week.
Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said officers from her Department located and detained eight people working illegally following visits to a range of commercial and residential properties.
The visits were part of joint operations in conjunction with the Queensland Police Service.
"While some of these people had no visa, others were working in breach of their visa conditions and all of them have been transferred to detention facilities pending their removal from Australia," Minister Cash said.
The group included two men and a woman from Korea, a woman and two men from Thailand, one male Malaysian national and one Indian man.
Minister Cash said investigations were continuing into their circumstances but advised the Department had issued three Illegal Worker Warning Notices to employers.
"Employers and contractors must be more vigilant about ensuring their overseas workers have valid visas and are working legally. An easy web check using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online tool on the Department's website is all it takes," Minister Cash said.
"The Coalition Government's increased focus on compliance is producing excellent results."
Employers convicted under Commonwealth legislation for employing illegal workers face fines of up to $20,400 and two years' imprisonment while companies face fines of up to $102,000 per illegal worker.
People with information about illegal workers or visa overstayers can call the Immigration Dob-in Line on 1800 009 623.
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said he had been working hard on the issue.
"I have been working on this issue since being elected in 2013. During which time, I have met with Assistant Minister Cash and Minister for Justice Michael Keenan on numerous occasions," he said.
"Senator Barry O'Sullivan and I hosted a forum in Brisbane, to enable stakeholders to discuss the issue and put forward suggestions to address this 'seedy underbelly'.
"Almost all forum attendees agreed that further red tape and regulation would only add unnecessary cost and time pressures for employers who do the right thing.
"They argued that greater enforcement of the existing laws was desperately needed, and I'm grateful my colleagues in Canberra are listening and taking action.
"This operation should act as a deterrent for anyone considering breaking employment and immigration laws.
"I will continue to work with the Hinkler community, the horticulture and tourism industries, and my Ministerial colleagues to see that this problem is properly addressed."
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