At what point will the Immigration department address the issues raised last night by the Four Corners Programme? The issue that has been raised relates to Immigration fraud and the story can be read here:
There are so many of these instances arising all the time and it beggars belief that the Immigration department is still dithering as to what they should be doing. In addition the current government has indicated that they will be moving to minimise the amount of paperwork and prudential control that they impose as these issues will be sorted out by market forces.
Let’s go back over some of the instances of these issues playing out in recent years:
- MORE than 100 new charges have been laid on five of the 10 people charged over raids on a Carabooda market garden by state and federal authorities in May. All 10 accused men and women appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court this morning to face charges of money laundering. Five of the accused, including brothers Canh and Michael Le whose family own the market garden property at the centre of the drama, are also facing new charges of harbouring unlawful non-citizens.
- The couple who established one of Perth’s best-known Indian restaurant chains have been accused of running a visa scam where fellow Indians have allegedly been charged up to $50,000 each to jump the migration queue. The Immigration Department has confirmed it is investigating Maya Masala founders Bhupinder Singh Grewal and his wife Parveen Kaur Grewal over claims they have been selling access to 457 visas and jobs in their restaurants.
- A Four Corners investigation has revealed the food being picked, packed and processed by exploited workers is being sold to consumers nationwide. The supermarkets involved include Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, IGA and Costco. Fast food outlets KFC, Red Rooster and Subway are also implicated. The foods tainted by exploitation include a wide variety of vegetables and poultry products, with some of the biggest brand names set to be named. Migrant workers from Asia and Europe are being routinely abused, harassed and assaulted at work, the Four Corners investigation found. Women are also being targeted sexually, with women being propositioned for sex and asked to perform sexual favours in exchange for visas.
- It has been my view that the department of Immigration in its various incarnations has been asleep at the wheel. They have allowed this practice to be conducted. Sandeep can identify at least thirty people caught in the same rort by the same agent as he was. On the basis of that alone you would think that this is an industry siphoning millions of dollars out of our economic cycle. A starting point to examine these practices would need to be the establishment of a joint task force involving, but not limited to, the Australian Taxation Office, the Immigration department, the department of Educational Services (or equivalent), the Federal Police and the Banking Industry. It may well be that the proverbial horse has well and truly bolted but some attempt must be made to ensure the practice is not continued.
- That was a line from an email I received from a mate of mine yesterday. What did it refer to? It referred to the raids that had been conducted on the businesses in Carabooda, a northern suburb of Perth. Details of those raids were made known to us as we woke up from our slumber on Saturday morning May 3rd 2014.
- The scam involving restaurant and small business owners has been described by officials as “an organised and lucrative criminal enterprise” which undermines the skilled migration program. It has been exposed in more than a dozen rulings by the Migration Review Tribunal, which has cancelled the temporary and permanent residency of students who paid up to $3500 for fake documents. “One Indian student paid the scam’s kingpin $3500 to be a cook and another paid a chef $2500 for a fake reference and a photo of him in the kitchen”.
- Throughout the sorry saga of fraud after fraud the department appears unwilling or unable to tackle the issue with a great deal more vigour than it has. Some of us who are advocates in this area have been raising this as a priority for the government department to handle to little or no avail. The department defended its position about a year ago.
“Mr Bowles, the Secretary of the Immigration Department, says the allegations are serious and call into question the integrity of Australia’s migration and visa programs.
“These allegations, including that migration fraud is going undetected and is not being appropriately investigated, are of great concern to me,” he said in a statement.
The leaked immigration files showed repeated warnings that visa fraud and migration crime was widespread due to the collapse of the department’s investigation and enforcement capacity.
Mr Bowles says the Immigration Department is doing its utmost to combat fraud, but he says this is a “challenging space” and people will always try to thwart the system and enter Australia on a fraudulent basis.
“There is rigour in the department’s processes but there is also always room to improve,” he said.
The Department head says there will be an investigation into the leak of internal documents to journalists.
“I am looking into this as not only is it against the APS Code of Conduct and entirely inappropriate, such documents taken in isolation are not reflective of the full picture.”
What strikes me as the oddest part of Mr Bowles statement above is the last line wherein he says that the Department was going to undertake “an investigation into the leak of internal documents to journalists”. So it is not about attending to the substantive allegations of fraud, it is about the leak of documents relating to that fraud that is going to be a priority for the department.
And whilst this is occurring the department is continuing to perpetrate acts of discrimination against people with disabilities. The most recent of these is the case of Dr Siyat Abdi. (I must disclose herein that Siyat is a person I have known for a number of years and works for me at the Epilepsy Association and also at the Ethnic Disability Advocacy Centre). Details of his case are here:
His case follows a whole series of others that have occurred in recent years. These cases, inter alia, involve the following people:
- Dr Bernhard Moeller
- Dr Cesar Sofocado
- Enamul Kabir
- Dr Nora Aziz
- Angelo Fonseka
- Maria Sevilla
- The department is charged with the responsibility of managing our migrant intake and the resettlement of people arriving from here from a variety of places. It’s priorities in dealing with these issues is brought into question when it does not police the visa fraud that is occurring but allocates resources and time in perpetrating acts of discrimination against people with disabilities.
- These cases and others were referred to in my article in The Stringer’s pages almost twelve months ago.
There is much that needs to be done to restore our faith in the integrity of the processing by the department of these cases. I hope that these things will be put into place to do precisely this.