8 October 2019

Tomorrow, Wednesday 9 October, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Kristina Keneally, Senator Raff Ciccone and Lisa Chesters MP will host a policy roundtable in Shepparton to address the growing crisis of mass exploitation of airplane arrivals who have claimed asylum in Australia – and its impacts on regional Victoria.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s mismanagement and failures have seen Australia’s asylum application process and migration system being used by criminal syndicates and labour hire companies to traffic exploited workers into Australia.

Criminal syndicates have seized on the waiting times and delays in the Department of Home Affairs. People are being brought to Australia legally on student or tourist visas, made to apply for protection, and placed on bridging visas while their claims are assessed. During that time they are forced to work – most often in agriculture, hospitality or sexual servitude, and exploited through wage theft, assault, and even slavery.

It’s clear Peter Dutton has lost control of our borders with over 95,000 people arriving at Australian airports and applying for asylum since 1 July 2014.

A staggering 4,037 airplane arrivals made a claim for protection between 1 July 2019 and 19 August 2019 – that’s an average of 80 people per day.

There’s nothing wrong with claiming asylum – it’s an important right. However, in 90 per cent of these particular cases, the individuals are not legitimate refugees and are often being trafficked to Australia for the explicit purpose of being exploited. 
“Peter Dutton boasts ‘no one dies on a plane’ but the truth is we have no idea how many airplane people may have been critically injured or even died on his watch because of exploitation and slavery that is taking place under his nose.

“The horticultural industry is crying out for the Liberal National Government to address these concerns because they are acutely aware that rogue operators and labour hire firms are exploiting vulnerable people – particularly in regional Australia,” said Senator Keneally.

“I invited Kristina to Shepparton because I know how this growing crisis is leaving thousands of vulnerable people to be exploited right here in Victoria and we need to confront this problem head-on, engage with regional communities and end this exploitation,” said Senator Ciccone.

“For too long, the third term Morrison Government has tried to ignore this crisis and have neglected the concerns of people living in regional Victoria. This is why Labor has convened this roundtable,” said Ms Chesters.

The roundtable in Shepparton will discuss these ongoing concerns with a specific focus on regional concerns and impacts on the horticulture sector and will be attended by unions, community representatives, and industry and employer groups.
“This is a crisis that Peter Dutton is responsible for and it’s past time for the Government to take action,” said Senator Keneally.