Tuesday, 05 December 2017 09:02

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has executed a series of Taskforce Cadena-related warrants on properties in Queensland and Western Australia this week, targeting labour hire intermediaries (LHI) providing illegal farm workers.

Taskforce Cadena is a joint agency initiative between the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), led by its operational arm the ABF, and the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

Since it was established in June 2015, Taskforce Cadena operations have targeted high-risk industries including agriculture, hospitality, entertainment, poultry, security and beauty services.

“On November 30, officers visited a residential address in Gatton, west of Brisbane, where they located a male Papua New Guinea (PNG) national suspected of working as a LHI. The man was interviewed by officers and items including computer equipment has been seized. Electronic items were also seized from a second address,” ABF Investigations Acting Commander Garry Low said.

“An additional 13 people of interest were also located at the property, comprising a mix of non-citizens from PNG and the Solomon Islands, most suspected of working in breach of their visa conditions and likely to have their visas cancelled, and one residing and working illegally in Australia who has been detained ahead of his removal."

Warrant activity also occurred in Manjimup and Pemberton in WA, on November 28 and 30 respectively. In Manjimup, one suspected LHI faced visa cancellation and was detained. An additional nine people working in breach of their visa conditions are likely to have their visas cancelled. In Pemberton, four people working illegally were located and detained. Across both locations, electronic devices such as phones and computers have been seized.

 “The exploitation of foreign workers can have a lasting negative impact on Australian communities and individuals. This can include the underpayment and exploitation of vulnerable visa holders in workplaces and the closure of small businesses due to unfair competitive advantage gained by competitors not complying with the law,” Acting Commander Low said.

Evidence obtained during warrant activity will be used to continue investigations into the use of labour hire intermediaries who source unlawful non-citizens or non-citizens in breach of work conditions.

In cases of organised visa fraud, the ABF can pursue offences carrying penalties up to 10 years imprisonment and/or fines of up to $180,000 for individuals and $900,000 for corporations.

Anyone who is aware of an individual, business or employer who might be facilitating visa fraud or illegal work is urged to contact Border Watch at www.border.gov.au/report

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