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Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Page: 8835


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Minister for Rural Health) (18:57): I can indicate to the chamber that the government does not support these amendments. The intention of the bill is not to target employees who have been coerced into making payments or have been subject to human trafficking or slavery, and I make that very clear to the chamber. As payment-for-visas cases are usually complex, involving multiple actors, the government does not support enshrining this aspect in legislation. These amendments could potentially reduce the amount of discretion open to the department to change its approach should the initial appearance of the case change during the course of the investigation.

The department will prescribe requirements under policy that it is not appropriate to pursue visa cancellation, infringements or civil penalty orders against a visa applicant or holder where payments have been extracted under force of threats or other forms of exploitation. Cancellation is discretionary, as I have indicated, and consideration about whether or not a person has been subject to coercion would form part of the decision about whether or not cancellation should occur.