Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, Clare O’Neil on Monday said the country’s immigration system is broken and being exploited by criminals.
O’Neil, who has served in the key ministerial portfolio since the Labor Party won May’s election, blamed her predecessor, Peter Dutton, for the issues, reports Xinhua news agency.
Responding to a series of reports about organised crime exploitation of the visa system, she revealed she had been advised that “tens of thousands” of people could be in Australia illegally.
“The migration system is in a state of disrepair. There are systemic problems. Criminals are coming into our country operating with impunity and no one’s doing anything about it.”
Nine newspapers have revealed how global human trafficking syndicates have exposed flaws in Australia’s border security and immigration for sex trafficking, worker exploitation and drug crime.
O’Neil flagged an independent inquiry into the revelations.
Dutton, now leader of the opposition, served as the minister for immigration and border protection, or home affairs minister between 2014 and 2021 in the former coalition government.
O’Neil said the expert evidence does suggest that during that nine years that the coalition was in power, literally tens of thousands of people came into the country. They might be exploited farm workers.
They might be women who are trapped in sexual slavery.
“The human consequences of these problems are enormous, and we’ve got to change the way that this system operates so we can have a properly run migration system,” she said.
In a statement, Dutton said he had “zero tolerance when it comes to any attempt to exploit our visa system and vulnerable individuals” and would support government proposals “to combat visa fraud within the Australian migration system”.