Labor’s immigration spokesperson, Kristina Keneally, has launched another onslaught against the blowout of bridging visas under the Coalition’s watch, which has been fuelled by people smugglers:
Labor senator Kristina Keneally has credited the coalition government with “stopping the boats” but warned people smugglers are now bringing in asylum seekers by plane.
Senator Keneally is going on the offensive against the Home Affairs minister over a “massive blowout” in the number of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by air.
Almost all of them are found not to be refugees, and they are then put on two to three-year bridging visas.
There are now nearly 230,000 people on bridging visas in Australia, and there are fears many of these people are being exploited in workplaces.
“Peter Dutton has lost control of borders at our airports,” Senator Keneally told Sky News on Sunday…
“Ninety per cent of these people are found not to be refugees,” Senator Keneally said.
“But they are coming largely from Malaysia and China – they are being sent here by criminal syndicates and illegal labour hire companies.”
Senator Keneally said people were being sent off to work in “quite exploitative, sometimes slavery-like conditions” in horticulture, hospitality and sexual servitude.
Immigration experts have backed Keneally’s concerns:
Criminal syndicates are using Australia’s “broken” visa system for human trafficking that is leading to the exploitation of foreign workers who are being paid as little as $4 an hour…
“Organised crime are indeed facilitating unlawful migration on a fee-for-service basis, using methodologies from fake identity documents, to gaming Australia’s visa system,” [John Coyne, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s head of border security] said.
“Australia’s border security arrangements are being exploited, and individuals who have not been appropriately identified are at times entering the country”.
“The Australian black economy is indeed being supported by organised crime, who along with businesses involved, are using these methods to exploit workers, and those involved are not paying taxes and are often remitting their salaries out of the country”…
Former deputy secretary of the department of immigration and border protection Abul Rizvi said the “eye watering” blowout in bridging visa numbers indicated a “sick system”.
“The people we’re talking about are generally vulnerable people. They will have little financial resources, and they are being exploited – they’re being exploited by criminals, and they’re being exploited by unscrupulous labour hire companies”.
As shown in the next chart, bridging visas have ballooned by around 110,000 since the Coalition was elected in 2013:
Last month former High Court justice, Ian Callinan, also warned that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) was being flooded with bogus asylum seeker application, fuelled by organised criminals:
[Former High Court justice Ian Callinan] said “almost everyone” with migration law experience had told him there were applicants and representatives who “game the system, well knowing there is an automatic entitlement to a bridging visa”.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority told Mr Callinan that delays had repercussions beyond the AAT. It told him it was aware that organised criminals were sometimes, “perhaps even regularly”, benefiting from fake vocational training programs or “ghost’’ colleges…
The AAT now handles about 59,000 lodgements a year: more than half (52 per cent) are migration and refugee cases…
The AAT’s caseload of migration and refugee matters doubled in the two years to June 30 last year…
And this surge in bogus applications has been driven, to a significant extent, by Malaysians using dodgy agents:
The Malaysian government this week acknowledged Malaysians seeking to earn money in Australia were scamming the country’s protection visa system by the thousands each year…
Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya told parliament there were few disincentives for workers to try their luck because it was so cheap to apply for a protection visa.
The worst that could happen was they would be sent home at Australia’s expense…
Nazuan Apis left Malaysia in late 2016 for Australia on a three-month online tourist visa, knowing he would likely overstay his welcome to earn money doing seasonal farm work.
But it was only after meeting a Malaysian work agent while working in a vineyard in Robinvale, Mildura, that he decided to apply for a protection visa in a bid to extend his work stay.
“He told me that if I wanted to stay in Australia I should apply for a protection visa. He said he could arrange it all for me for $100″…
Fifteen of his Malaysian housemates in Mildura, mostly farm workers who had also overstayed their visas, also applied for protection through the same agent…
In reality, the scamming of Australia’s visa system comes in many guises and includes, among other things:
- Plane arrivals making bogus claims for asylum;
- International students undertaking bogus ‘mickey mouse’ courses in order to obtain working rights and permanent residency;
- Undocumented migrant workers paid well below market rates, facilitated via criminal syndicates and illegal labour hire companies; and
- Employers hiring ‘skilled’ temporary migrant workers at below market rates around the minimum salary threshold of $53,900.
Put simply, the whole immigration system has been corrupted and desperately needs root-and-branch reform.