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Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Page: 8834


Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (18:55): by leave—I move opposition amendments (4), (9), (19) and (26) on sheet 7807 together:

(4) Schedule 1, item 1, page 3 (line 6), after "(2)", insert ", (2A)".

(9) Schedule 1, item 2, page 3 (lines 24 and 25), omit the item, substitute:

2 Subsection 116(2)

   Omit "(1AA) or (1AB)", substitute "(1AA), (1AB) or (1AC)".

2A After subsection 116(2)

   Insert:

   (2A) The Minister is not to cancel a visa under subsection (1AC) if the benefit was asked for, received, offered or provided, as mentioned in that subsection:

   (a) because of the use of coercion, threat or deception (within the meaning of Division 270 of the Criminal Code), whether against the visa holder or another person; or

   (b) in circumstances where the visa holder was the victim of an offence against Division 270 (slavery and slavery-like conditions) or 271 (trafficking in persons and debt bondage) of the Criminal Code, whether or not a person has been charged with or convicted of the offence.

2B Subsection 116(3)

   Omit "(1AA) or (1AB)", substitute "(1AA), (1AB) or (1AC)".

(19) Schedule 1, item 6, page 6 (lines 3 to 5), omit subsection 245AR(3) (not including the note), substitute:

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply if:

   (a) the benefit is a payment of a reasonable amount for a professional service that has been provided, or is to be provided, by the first person or a third person; or

   (b) the benefit was asked for or received:

      (i) because of the use of coercion, threat or deception (within the meaning of Division 270 of the Criminal Code), whether against the first person or another person; or

      (ii) in circumstances where the first person was the victim of an offence against Division 270 (slavery and slavery-like conditions) or 271 (trafficking in persons and debt bondage) of the Criminal Code,whether or not a person has been charged with or convicted of the offence.

(26) Schedule 1, item 6, page 7 (lines 1 to 4), omit subsection 245AS(3), substitute:

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply if:

   (a) the benefit is a payment of a reasonable amount for a professional service that has been provided, or is to be provided, by the second person or a third person; or

   (b) the benefit was offered or provided:

      (i) because of the use of coercion, threat or deception (within the meaning of Division 270 of the Criminal Code), whether against the first person or another person; or

      (ii) in circumstances where the first person was the victim of an offence against Division 270 (slavery and slavery-like conditions) or 271 (trafficking in persons and debt bondage) of the Criminal Code, whether or not a person has been charged with or convicted of the offence.

These amendments go to the issue of coercion, criminal offences and civil penalties in relation to visa holders. As this bill is currently drafted, the minister will have the power to cancel the visa of someone who has received a benefit. An unintended consequence could be that the visa of someone who was coerced into making or receiving a payment might be cancelled.

These amendments ensure that penalties cannot be applied to a visa holder who has been coerced by the sponsor or a third party into offering or making or receiving or requesting a benefit. The amendments also prevent the minister cancelling the visa of someone who has been subject to human trafficking, forced labour or slavery offences. Vulnerable workers should not be placed at risk of deportation because of the criminal conduct of their employer.

I say this again: these are not blanket indemnities that we are proposing; they require judgement by ministers as to what they have a reasonable belief is happening. We know that in these circumstances in this country these types of behaviour, including slavery, occur. The question is whether under those circumstances, when faced with the prospect of reporting an offence, people who feel sufficiently intimidated or coerced would actually do so if they know that for their benefit they have the very strong possibility of deportation. It strikes me that there is a need to deal more explicitly with that matter. I will have more to say on this matter. I understand that others want to say something on these questions.