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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 21 March, 2019
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Australian government to target employers of illegal immigrants

Australia is calling out for Irish workers and is willing to make the visa process easier, but it also tackling a huge labour black market.

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT is planning to target the employers of illegal immigrants in a bid to crack down on 100,000 workers.

Fines and infringement notices will be handed down to employers who are found to be employing illegal workers. Each employee could cost bosses $10,000 under the new rules, while there will also be penalties under civil law.

Until now authorities have been tackling the problem by deporting those without visas and taking legal action in some cases. However the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Immigration Minister Chris Bowen feels that often the workers who were “best placed to give evidence against their former bosses” were deported before legal proceedings began.

Bowen said that many employers do not take the sanctions involved in employing illegal immigrants seriously, and that prosecution is often very difficult.

The crackdown will involve adopting recommendations made by legal expert Stephen Howells, who said in a report that the practice of employing illegal workers was leading to the exploitation of vulnerable individuals, unsafe work practices, underpayment and the encouragement of organised crime and welfare fraud.

News.com.au reports that the tough new sanctions will apply to those found to be employing two or more illegal workers.

MSN reports that the opposition has backed the crackdown, but also said that the government needs to address the critical skills shortage in the economy and help businesses to legally employ the staff they need.

Irish workers

Last week the Western Australia Jobs Minister came to Ireland in a bid to tempt skilled Irish workers to come to the state to work legally.

Peter Collier said that the country simply doesn’t have enough workers to deal with the current resource boom. He said that the federal Australian government is working to accelerate the visa process for Irish workers.

Almost a thousand people attended a recruitment seminar in Dublin last week, aimed at attracting workers to Australia.

Read more: Western Australia ‘can take one-third of employed from Ireland’>

- Additional reporting by AP

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Emer McLysaght

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