Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Labor to crack down on illegal workers.



Download PDFDownload PDF

FEDERAL LABOR LEADER

STATEMENT BY THE FEDERAL LABOR LEADER MARK LATHAM

Labor to crack down on illegal workers

A Latham Labor Government will introduce a Photo ID Card for Foreign Workers to crack down on illegal migrants working in Australia.

Labor will always put the national interest first and that means keeping our labour market free of organised rackets that rely on illegal and exploited workers. We must protect job opportunities for Australian residents first and foremost.

Our Photo ID Card for Foreign Workers will provide a strong regime for protecting Australian jobs and indeed, the rights of legitimate foreign workers.

Labor’s plan will see the Card issued to non-residents who have a visa which entitles them to work. Employers will then be obliged to check workers are carrying the card.

We will also create a special class of tax file numbers for use only by people holding the Photo ID Card for Foreign Workers. This will alert the government if the person has overstayed their visa and is trying to work illegally.

And we’ll provide a tough enforcement regime by creating an illegal workers’ strike force with spot checks and monitoring at high-risk workplaces.

There are more than 60,000 migrants in Australia illegally, with up to half of these working illegally and taking jobs off Australians. A quarter of all illegal migrants have been here more than ten years.

The number of illegal workers is swelled by those who work in breach of visa conditions. For example, Labor believes the subclass 456 business visa and the subclass 457 skilled visas are being misused to get overseas workers into Australia who are then exploited.

This exploitation extends beyond individual employers to organised rackets. It doesn’t just undermine the number of job opportunities available to Australians, as well as wages and conditions, but exploits overseas workers who are left without an avenue for complaint.

The Howard Government has failed to tackle this problem. If Mr Howard reckons he has it right on border protection why has he failed to target and eliminate these 30,000 illegal migrant workers? Why has he done nothing about the biggest problem in Australia’s migration system?

Labor’s Commitment

Labor will crack down on illegal workers by:

• Issuing a Photo ID Card to non-residents who have a visa which entitles them to work. We will also look to use biometric technology to link each card with the information of the individual foreign worker. This information would be directly linked to the card holders passport DIMIA file and TFN. The card will detail the person’s name, nationality, passport number, visa status and be marked to expire the same date the visa expires. • Requiring employers to check the Identity Cards, plus prosecuting and

penalising any employer who hires illegal workers. Under the Howard Government there are no effective sanctions for employers hiring the illegal migrant workers. Labor will introduce legislation to penalise employers who do so knowingly. The penalty for an individual will be up to 1 year imprisonment, while companies will face fines of up to $137,500 ; • Creating a special class of tax file numbers for use only by people

holding the Photo ID Card to alert the government if the person has overstayed their visa and is trying to work illegally; • Creating an illegal workers’ strike force within DIMIA, with the capacity and powers to inspect and monitor suspected workplaces around the

country.

This initiative complements other Labor policies to improve our national independence and self-reliance: stronger regional airport security, creation of a Coastguard and the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security.

While the Howard Government is off dreaming about the Son of Star Wars, Labor is adopting practical policies to protect our borders and make Australians safer and more secure.

18 JANUARY 2004 TOWNSVILLE