Legislation: visa charges, FW Act and foreign crews

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Legislation: visa charges, FW Act and foreign crews

Legislation has been passed making paying for visa sponsorship illegal. Fair Work Act amendments have now commenced and the Senate has rejected legislation to increase access to coastal shipping to foreign-crewed ships.

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As federal parliament winds down for the year, legislation has been passed making paying for visa sponsorship illegal. Fair Work Act amendments have now commenced and the Senate has rejected legislation to increase access to coastal shipping to foreign-crewed ships.

Paying for visa sponsorship


Legislation prohibiting people from receiving payment for sponsoring temporary and permanent foreign workers passed through federal parliament this week.
 
The Migration Amendment (Charging for a Migration Outcome) Bill outlaws conduct involving asking for, receiving, offering or providing payment or other benefits in return for visa sponsorship. 

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, said, after the bill’s passing: “It is not acceptable for anyone to make a personal gain from selling visa sponsorship and it is not acceptable for a foreign worker to become an Australian permanent resident or be granted a work visa for Australia by paying an employer for their visa. 

“Not only does paying a sponsor for a visa undermine Australian workplace law, but applicants who have paid for their visa are also known to be more vulnerable to exploitation and extortion by their sponsor.” 

Penalties include up to two years' imprisonment, civil penalties of up to $324,000 and/or visa cancellation.

Further details on the bill’s provisions can be found here.

The legislation will commence upon Proclamation, or within six months.

Fair Work Act amendments receive assent


Amendments to the Fair Work Act commenced yesterday, upon receiving assent. The amendments were first tabled in February 2014 and those which made it through the parliament deal with extensions to unpaid parental leave, industrial action and greenfields agreements. 

Amendments relating to the payment of annual leave on termination as well as new rules relating to the accrual of annual leave while on workers compensation were not accepted by the Senate and did not make the final draft of the bill as recently passed. 

Most of the provisions of the Fair Work Amendment Act 2015 (Act No 156, 2015) have now commenced. More details on the Act can be found here.

Foreign-crewed ships legislation fails to pass Senate


The Senate yesterday rejected the Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill, which would have allowed foreign ships working in domestic waters for more than six months of a year to pay foreign wages, instead of Australian minimum wages.

Foreign-owned ships would also have been able to carry containers on domestic routes. The bill faced fierce opposition from the Maritime Union and the ALP, which argued Australian ship owners would have been forced to reflag their vessels and allow foreign crews in order to remain competitive.
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