LISTEN: Six illegal Bowen workers await deportation
SIX workers are awaiting deportation in Brisbane, after the Australian Border Force caught them operating illegally in the Bowen agriculture sector.
The ABF search warrants were executed at several farming and residential properties on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.
The six adults included two women, one Indonesian and one Malaysian, and four men who were from Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and the People's Republic of China.
All six were believed to have been working illegally in the agricultural industry, but ABF Commander Robyn Miller said the result was especially positive as four of the group were believed to be acting as labour hire intermediaries.
"We believe that four of the group were involved in sourcing illegal labour and sending money offshore, which we identified partly through sizeable international financial transactions that had been occurring," Commander Miller said.
The group has been transferred to immigration detention in Brisbane pending their removal from Australia.
"As well as identifying individuals who are in breach of their visa conditions, we also seek to identify unscrupulous employers who exploit visa holders," she said.
Bowen Gumlu Growers Association President Carl Walker applauded the move, and encouraged those in the industry and those who regulated it to continue the tough approach to illegal workers and "dodgy contractors".
LISTEN: Carl Walker talks about why illegal workers deserve tough punishment.
"To stamp out illegal workers we've got to stamp out the people who employ them," Mr Walker said.
"Then the illegal workers will have no where to work. Unfortunately these dodgy contractors are making it tough for the ones who are fair dinkum."
He also believed perpetrators should be punished with a fine, as well as deportation or prison time.
"They think they're being smart by earning more money, take it off them," Mr Walker said.
"We've got to get tough. If it's Australians doing it, take their money off them in fines, chuck them in the clink for a while, maybe they'll change their ways.
"Any growing operation knowingly employing illegal workers deserve to be treated the same way as the illegal workers."
But despite last weeks incident, Mr Walker believed nine out of 10 contractors were doing the right thing.
People with information about illegal workers or visa over-stayers can call the Department's Border Watch Hotline on 1800 009 623 or visit the Department's website.