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    MBA chief executive expresses 'strong disappointment' at passing of Migration Amendment Bill

    Published on 13 February 2019, Wednesday, 3:29 AM

    The Migration Amendment (Reform of Employer Sanctions) Bill was passed on February 27  targeting illegal migrant workers in Australia - a move that a key Australian building and construction association does not support.

    Master Builders Australia (MBA) says that "in reality" this requires employers to check all employees' rights to work in Australia or risk a "substantial fine".

    MBA chief executive officer Wilhelm Harnisch expressed "strong disappointment" commenting that the bill puts a large burden on the majority of employers who do the right thing.

    “Master Builders does not condone the use and exploitation of illegal workers. We support appropriate compliance action under existing legislation," Mr Harnisch said in a February 28 press release.

    “This bill shifts the burden of proof onto employers by making it an offense to employ someone without Australian work rights, regardless of their work history in Australia or whether the employer was aware they didn’t have work rights."

    Mr Harnisch says that the bill is "poorly expressed" and has no clear guidelines on how requirements will be administered, creating confusion and a "massive compliance burden" for the industry.

    Employers are required to view a birth certificate, passport or working eligibility rights through a government computer program - with this process including existing employees, regardless of how long they have worked in Australia.

    "This is impractical and burdensome. The building and construction industry employs close to a million people, including legitimate workers from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

    "Those working in Australia without the right to do so only make up between 0.1 and 0.5 per cent of the nation’s workforce. But rather than targeting illegal activity, the Bill has turned thousands of honest employers into de-facto immigration agents."

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    Nathan Mills
    Nathan is a seasoned Kennards Hire team member passionate about empowering DIYers in their projects. He loves everything DIY and brings together years of equipment and project experience to help customers get the right tools for their next job.