/ 05 October 2023

Visa fraud in Oz under the spotlight

Image source: AAP
Image source: AAP

The Squiz

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil says “unscrupulous” migration agents will be targeted in a $50 million crackdown on fraud in Australia’s visa system. The reason for it is twofold… There was a review into our immigration system led by former Victoria Police Commissioner Christine Nixon that found “grotesque abuses” against temporary migrants and international students, including “sexual exploitation, human trafficking and other organised crime”. And there are concerns that migration and education agents are getting visas for non-legit students and then trying to extend their stays through asylum claims.

So what’s the solution?

To be Captain Obvious for a second, the visa/migration system isn’t straightforward, so O’Neil says they will tackle it in a few ways. The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Captain Obvious here again – it registers and regulates agents…) will be given more resources to examine agents’ conduct and powers to hand out penalties to agents found in the wrong. O’Neil says a strike force will also be set up in the Home Affairs Department to increase background and compliance testing of visa applicants. And Operation Inglenook, which was a temporary taskforce investigating cases of migrant exploitation/human trafficking, will be made permanent.

That sounds pretty straightforward?

Sure, until you pour some politics on it… O’Neil unloaded on Coalition leader Peter Dutton, saying he was behind “one of the great frauds that’s been perpetrated in Australian politics”. That’s because he was the Home Affairs minister until Team Morrison was dumped at the last election. Nixon’s investigation found 180 compliance staff were removed between 2013-14 and 2022-23, and O’Neil says “Peter Dutton was the person who oversaw the immigration system and its decline in resourcing”. Dutton was having none of it. “If you think I’m going to take a lecture from Clare O’Neil and Anthony Albanese in relation to migration and how to keep our country safe, you’ve got another thing coming,” he said, pointing to Labor’s record on unlawful boat arrivals.

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