New investigative powers

The recent amendments also provide new investigative powers to the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. These powers include (but are not limited to) allowing the Secretary to issue a written notice requiring a person to give information or produce a document if the Secretary has reason to believe that the person has information or a document that is relevant to a possible contravention or offence.

Significantly, a person will not be excused from giving information or producing a document in response to a notice on the ground that compliance might tend to incriminate the person or expose the person to a penalty. However, in the case of an individual, the information given or document produced will not be admissible in evidence against the individual in criminal proceedings (exceptions do apply) or in certain civil proceedings.

Steps you should take

Businesses and executive officers should ensure that there are systems in place for verifying that their workers and/or persons they refer for work are legally permitted to work in Australia and will not be in breach of a visa condition in performing work. Steps should also be taken to ensure that all staff, agents and contractors who may be involved in the engagement and/or referral of such workers understand the obligations imposed by the Act. It is also important for such stakeholders to make sure that there is documentation of required procedures, training provided to relevant persons, as well as documentation relating to verification of individual workers. Employment contracts should also be reviewed to ensure that they contain appropriate provisions.