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‘I just broke down’: ABF raids couple as officers hunt for missing seasonal workers

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‘I just broke down’: ABF raids couple as officers hunt for missing seasonal workers

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers agree with raided a Bundaberg property as phase of an investigation into missing seasonal workers.

Key aspects:

  • Earlier this one year, 51 workers in Bundaberg absconded from the seasonal employee program
  • ABF officers just no longer too prolonged ago searched a property relating to its investigation 
  • The couple, who present pastoral assist to seasonal workers, agree with no longer been charged

The officers, who had been issued a warrant to toddle attempting the home of pastoral carers Jane and Geoffrey Smith, seized information from mobile telephones and computers for the duration of the raid.

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“I was laying pavers and next thing there may be two officers standing about a metre-and-a-half of some distance from me,” Mr Smith stated. 

Missing workers

Earlier this one year, 51 workers in Bundaberg absconded from the federal authorities’s seasonal employee program.

They left this system after an employment dispute to toddle attempting for better pay and work instances. 

As of March, 15 workers had been reconnected to this system nevertheless the visa station of additional than 30 others remained unknown.

Mr Smith stated with out a doubt one of many officers defined the allegations to him for the duration of the raid last month.

However he denied the allegations. 

“I stated, ‘I do now not know what you’re talking about. I do now not know’,” Mr Smith stated. 

His wife Jane stated the raid was a confronting expertise. 

“Almost in each place we moved they adopted us,” she stated. 

“All the pieces just form of reach down on me and just hit me what was going on. 

A close up of an elderly couple's hands clasped together. The woman's is decorated with rings

Geoffrey and Jane Smith verbalize they are brooding about taking a step assist from their pastoral care work. (

ABC Rural: Megan Hughes

)

Probe could well remove weeks, per chance years 

Mr and Mrs Smith agree with no longer been charged.

Lawyer Stewart Levitt stated the investigation could well remove anyplace from a couple of weeks to some years.  

“They (ABF) must point to to a Justice of the Peace that they’ve reasonable suspicion that an offence could even just agree with been committed,” Mr Levitt stated. 

“They exhaust that as the basis for conducting a raid on any individual’s premises and taking their paperwork and gaining access to their confidential information. 

Mr Levitt stated the Smiths were being investigated for offences below the Migration Act, namely that they “referred or continues to refer unlawful non-electorate for work”. 

If convicted, the charges raise a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.  

“What we acquire appalling about this is other folks just like the Smiths who agree with been working to present pastoral care to South Sea Islanders, and offer comfort and assistance to them would be hounded by Border Force in this skill,” Mr Levitt stated. 

The Australian Border Force confirmed officers visited the Bundaberg region the week starting Monday, July 19.

“As the topic relates to an ongoing investigation, it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further,” the spokesperson stated.

“Somebody who is responsive to a person, industry or employer who could even just be facilitating visa fraud or unlawful work is entreated to contact border see.” 

‘I could well retain going’

Mr and Mrs Smith stated they were attempting to determine where to toddle from right here. 

They are brooding about taking a step assist from their pastoral care work.

“I’ve bought to bring to mind my wife too — I could well retain going,” Mr Smith stated. 

“They suspect they may be able to injure me, they assume they may be able to discontinue this, nevertheless my God tells me if I am doing the fitting thing and doing issues that a peculiar caring person would discontinue — you discontinue it.” 

Supply:
‘I just broke down’: ABF raids couple as officers hunt for missing seasonal workers