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Vineyard labour crews detained

Federal government agencies Centrelink and the Department of Immigration & Multicultural Affairs, together with the Victorian Taxi Industry Directorate have been conducting raids on itinerant workers in several parts of central Victoria.

The raid are usually attended by the Victoria Police with helicopter support.

A recent raid on a vineyard labour force engaged in pruning activities at Corop and

Lake Cooper in the Heathcote GI region resulted in the apprehension of 13 people who were either non-citizens or in breach of ‘no-work’ conditions of their visas.

The group included six Malaysian nationals, four Thai and three Vietnamese workers who were detained and transported to the Maribyrnong Detention Centre from where they are expected to be deported.

Five people also received fines totalling $2,096 for operating unlicensed commercial passenger vehicles used to transport the pruning crews to the vineyard sites.

Centrelink has also cancelled or suspended payments to a further 56 people who were working in the cash economy as pruners in breach of their conditions.

A Departmental spokesman said no fines were levied on the employers of the illegal workers but it would be preparing further information to help vineyards in better checking their employee history, especially of labour crews in future

Human Services Minister Joe Hockey said that the raids would deliver savings to Australian taxpayers from the operation of more than $390,000.



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