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Package to help employers check employees work rights launched



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ι ν ι e a i a K e i e a s e

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MR Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (02) 6277 7860 Facsimile: (02) 6273 4144

MPS 71/99

PACKAGE TO HELP EMPLOYERS CHECK EMPLOYEES WORK RIGHTS LAUNCHED

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today launched a range of measures aimed at helping employers check the work rights of their employees.

At the Melbourne launch at the "Diana Ferrari" shoe factory in Fairfield, Mr Ruddock — said the Government is committed to curbing abuse of Australia's visa system by illegal workers.

"Illegal workers take jobs away from Australians, and by checking work rights employers can ensure that only those people entitled to work in Australia are given jobs”.

Among the initiatives announced by the Minister was the new ‘Employing Overseas Workers - Doing the Right Thing' campaign, which aims to make it easier for employers to check a person s entitlement to work in Australia.

"The centrepiece of this campaign is an information kit which includes samples of visas and what employers should look for when checking work rights."

Mr Ruddock stressed it was not good business to employ people who do not have the right to work in Australia.

“I am sure employers share the Government’s determination to reduce unemployment far Australians and to boost economic growth for the nation.

“There is no excuse for an employer unknowingly recruiting an illegal worker when they can use information provided in the kit, on the Internet, or simply by phoning my - Department to check if the person has the right to work.

"By employing a person who does not have the right to work here, an employer runs the risk of losing key staff. They not only lose productivity but also have to bear the expense of finding replacement staff.

“Furthermore, people who work illegally place an enormous cost burden on the Australian taxpayer.

"Last year the cost of physically locating, detaining and removing people illegally in Australia ran to some $50 million.

"By employers and Government working together on this issue, we can reduce the numbers of illegal workers in Australia, increase employment opportunities for those entitled to work, and protect the integrity of Australia's borders".

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The campaign is a proactive approach to combating the problem, with copies of the kit being distributed directly to employer groups, professional associations and industry groups.

An Internet site (http://www.immi.gov.au) has also been developed to enable employers throughout Australia to gain immediate on-line information about employing legal workers.

Mr Ruddock also announced the members of the external Reference Group to the Review on Illegal Workers in Australia. The group will examine the problem of illegal workers in Australia and guide the Review.

The external Reference Group comprises:

• Noel Hicks - Chairman of the external Reference Group, formerly National Party Member for Riverina NSW 1993 - 1996. • Nicole Feely - Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry, previously with the Sydney Organising Committee for

the Olympic Games and Chief-of-staff to the Prime Minister. • Gary Johns - Writer and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs. Formerly the ALP member for Petrie Old 1987 to 1996 and held various ministerial positions from 1992 to 1996.

• Hugh King - Senior partner at Phillips Fox Lawyers and is the firm’s representative on, and a Director of, the Tourism Council of Australia, the peak industry body. Has worked with various tourism industry bodies and governments for over 15 years. Also a member of the Tourism Taskforce. • Joseph Assaf - Chairman and CEO of Ethnic Communications Pty Ltd which

specialises in advertising and marketing to all non-English communities.

Mr Ruddock said the external Reference Group would consider the submissions received in response to the discussion paper, "The hidden workforce: Illegal workers in Australia and those that would join them".

“The discussion paper outlines various options including a range of possible empolyer sanctions and bond arrangements for close family visits to Australia.

“I would stongly encourage all employers and industry representatives to contribute to the review.

“The input of respected industry professionals will assist in improving our efforts to combat the large number of people working illegally".

ENDS Thursday, 6 May 1999

Media Inquiries: Brad Robinson 0419 278 715