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Ruddock's tough talk but not action.



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JULIA GILLARD M.P.

Shadow Minister for Population & Immigration FRANK MOSSFIELD, MEMBER FOR GREENWAY

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

RUDDOCK’S TOUGH TALK BUT NO ACTION

The Minister for Immigration, Philip Ruddock, is always happy to talk tough on immigration.

But today he was caught out when his own Department admitted that they knew nothing of a particularly blatant case of exploitation of a skilled foreign worker holding a sub-class 457 visa.

Sub-class 457 visas allow employers to sponsor an overseas employee if their business will “advance skills through technology or training” and the employer agrees to “comply with Australian industrial laws”.

Using a 457 visa, an employer sponsored Mr Rados Stevanovic, a master artist famous for his religious frescoes and artwork, to paint a church. For four years, Mr Stevanovic was paid an average of $163 a week and was forced to live on-site at the church and pay for his work materials from his weekly salary. He trained no-one and worked alone.

The Department has agreed that they effectively have no power to stop this exploitation and pursue the monies owing to Mr Stevanovic. They have also agreed that they have no power to investigate and fine employers who fail to comply with agreements made with the Department under business-sponsored visas.

When questioned at Senate Estimates on the matter today, Departmental Secretary Bill Farmer admitted that it was “of real concern”. He also said he was ready to pursue an outcome. This is heartening news from the Department because all we have heard from the Minister to date is tough talk and no action.

Mr Frank Mossfield, Mr Stevanovic’s Federal MP, has worked tirelessly in recent months making representations to the Department on Mr Stevanovic’s behalf. Mr Mossfield said that Mr Stevanovic had already been made to work under unmonitored and exploitative employment conditions for far too long and he hoped that by bringing the issue to the attention of senior officials, the Department would move quickly to redress the situation.

Thursday 30 May 2002

For further information contact: Julia Gillard, MP or Jamie Snashall (Adviser) on 02 6277 4349 or 0408 419 699